USAF bases help Suffolk crews at Lackford composting plant fire

USAF and Suffolk fire crews are working together on  a long-term damping down of a fire at the composting plant at Lackford. ANL-151123-164806009
USAF and Suffolk fire crews are working together on a long-term damping down of a fire at the composting plant at Lackford. ANL-151123-164806009

USAF firefighters from Mildenhall and Lakenheath have been helping Suffolk Fire Service crews with damping down a slow burning fire in more than 3,000 tonnes of compost at a composting plant near Lackford.

The bases have loaned the services of their high capacity water bowsers to keep fire fighters supplied with water.

Bury St Edmunds Fire Station Commander Mark Walker said: “They’re helping us keep up our responsibilities in the rest of the county.

“Ours carry 9,000 litres but they’ve got 14,000 to 15.000 litres. Their trucks are big and unwieldy, but for something like this they’re great. We’re really grateful to the Americans for helping the local community.”

The fire service and composting plant operators Tamar Organics say small fires in composting plants are normal, as the rotting material heats up.

Last Friday Suffolk County Council said that following exceptionally strong winds from storm ‘Barney’, the fire spread to an adjacent compost row.

A county spokeswoman said: “The fire is still safely contained and is now being extinguished by Tamar Organics employees with supervision from the Fire Service. This work is expected to take between five and seven days.”

Ian Bowell, area commander from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said:“We have been rotating crews from various stations to help with the incident at the compost site. The support from the US bases has been truly commendable, they have been an integral part of our operation.”

Steven Kelly, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief, said: “This fire suppression operation has allowed us to build upon our great partnership with the Suffolk Fire Service and, as always, we’re here to support our neighbouring communities when called upon.”

See Friday’s story here