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Fears over toxic air and polluted water after Hessle factory fire

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Officials are monitoring watercourses near to a Hessle factory destroyed in Wednesday's inferno as they also moved to reassure the public about toxins released into the air.

The Environment Agency confirmed it has commenced water sampling tests after the blaze at Bridgewood UK's plastic factory, which sent thick plumes of smoke high into the sky above Hull and forced tens of residents out of their homes.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency said the risk from toxins in the air is now "low".

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Water in at least one home in Southfield Drive turned brown and smelt "like metal" during the fire, according to one concerned resident.

This is unconnected to run off water from the emergency response, which was allowed to enter nearby Fleet Drain with permission from the Environment Agency.

Yellow water from a household tap in Southfield Drive, Hessle

The agency said it was working today with others to ensure the safety of watercourses near to the factory, which has been almost entirely destroyed. Click here to see dramatic photos of the destruction.

Jason Kirby, temporary director of people at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Local residents are still advised to keep their windows and doors shut, but the risk is now incredibly low."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "The Environment Agency is part of a multi-agency response to the fire in Hessle.

"Currently we are on site monitoring any impact on the watercourse as work to extinguish the fire is ongoing.

"We expect to be taking samples from the local watercourse later today."

Mr Kirby said firefighters had made "significant progress" in battling the fire overnight, praising the "exceptional work" of crews from Hull, East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

"There were 300 tonnes of plastics involved in the fire as the main fuel. Firefighting foam has been applied to this," he said.

A resident shared a frightening photograph of their home surrounded by flames (Image: Submitted)

"The source of the fire is still too early to tell. Fire investigators are on the scene and will be investigating over the next couple of days."

Residents reported hearing explosions "every 10 seconds" in the immediate aftermath of the fire, with lumps of material falling from the sky.

Mr Kirby explained how the fire service worked closely with the Environment Agency from the start of the emergency.

"There was a plan agreed with the EA right at the start to deal with both the run-off of water being used to fight the fire and the emissions from it," hr said.

"It was a kind of trade off between the two because there was a higher risk from the fumes so the decision was taken to allow some of the water to go into Fleet Drain and then out into the Humber.

"It was judged to be the best option because there were fairly low levels of contamination in the water and the EA signed off on that after seeking advice.

Jason Kirby, temporary director of people and development at Humberside Fire & Rescue (Image: BBC)

"That allowed us to concentrate on fighting the fire and reducing the cloud of black smoke everyone saw.

"It also gave us the necessary time to prepare for the foam attack which again was part of an agreed plan with the EA."

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