FIRE crews have finally put out a blaze on a huge waste tip – more than a month after it started.
Now a top-level inquiry has started to see what caused the incident and what action may now be taken.
Environment Agency officers suspended the waste licence for the site between Dewsbury and Ravensthorpe as fire crews battled day after day to tackle the blaze in many hundreds of tonnes of waste material.
Louis Harvey, Environment Agency team leader, said: “We’ve been working closely with the Fire and Rescue Service and Kirklees Council on this incident, and we were pleased to have been able to help firefighters reach the seat of the blaze.
“We are now in discussions with the site’s permit holder and investigating further action.”
The agency may well take court action against the owners of the site.
The deep-seated fire had been burning since February 7 despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters using specialist equipment.
Fire broke out at the site in Ravenswharf Road, Scout Hill, in a huge mound of rubbish and West Yorkshire firefighters have been working around the clock to extinguish it.
Three fire engines and an aerial appliance have typically been there every day, tying up hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment.
The fire service could not afford to let the fire burn itself out due to the proximity of local houses and industrial premises.
The Environment Agency and Kirklees Council brought in heavy lifting equipment to try to move some of the rubbish.
The council also arranged for the demolition of an unsafe structure on the site, to help the firefighting operation.
Deputy chief fire officer Steve Beckley, director of operations, said: “Thanks to the support of the Environment Agency and Kirklees Council, this incident has drawn to a close considerably earlier than initially feared. This is an example of agencies working together for the benefit of the community.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the firefighters who have worked long hours, often in very difficult conditions and to the Mobilising and Communications Centre staff who have co-ordinated the protracted incident.
“All have shown true professionalism throughout.”
Clr David Ridgway, who chairs the fire authority, said: “I know that due to the location of the fire, and in the interests of public safety, firefighters have had to be there around the clock, working long hours in difficult conditions.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all concerned for their magnificent efforts in dealing with one of the longest-running incidents in our recent history.”
Clr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “This was potentially a very serious incident and the swift action of everyone involved is to be applauded.
“The council's Environmental Services team played a vital role in making sure public safety was not compromised.”
Roy Hinchcliffe, of Mirfield, has run the site as a waste transfer business for several years.