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Probe finds Kronospan fire was caused by natural combustion

By Sue Austin | Chirk | News | Published:

The fire that raged on the woodyard at the Kronospan factory in Chirk started through natural combustion, it has been revealed.

An investigation by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service concluded that the blaze originated without an apparent external source of ignition.

Wrexham County Borough Council revealed the cause of the fire in a release to the public this week.

It also revealed that it was looking to install air quality monitoring equipment in the town that could be seen by the public.

Now the council’s public protection officers, who are responsible for regulating Kronospan’s environmental permit, including the wood pile areas at the factory, will investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire.

A spokesman said: "This investigation will take time to complete and the outcome cannot be speculated on until all the facts are available.

"All agencies understand the concerns raised in the community following the third fire in three years."

The blaze broke out in the early hours of January 13, in the timber holding area of the factory, which makes medium density fibreboard. It lasted until the Friday, with smoke causing concern to residents in the town.

Communication

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There was a multi-agency response to the incident which including a special, town council meeting attended by about 100 members of the public.

"Understandably the incident raised many concerns and questions from residents who felt they were not being addressed," the release from Wrexham Council said.

It said one item being looked at was communication.

"Communicating with residents involved in such an incident is not easy and we will be looking at other avenues of communications in the coming weeks that could be used should there be a similar incident in the future."

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Public Health Wales also released a briefing not saying that while smoke could irate airways, the skin and the eyes, the symptoms usually disappeared quickly and should not lead to long term health problems.

Concerns were raised by residents that the response from Multi Agency Partners was slow – air quality monitoring took place two days after the fire started which missed the worst of the smoke.

There were also questions raised about the availability of such equipment in North Wales.

"Wrexham Council worked as part of a multi-agency response to the fire. Agencies included North Wales Fire Service, North Wales Police, Welsh Ambulance Service, BCUHB, Public Health Wales, Natural Resources Wales. Decision in relation to the deployment of the Air Quality Cell was made following discussion with all the above agencies."

"The council will commit to liaise with Natural Resources Wales and Kronospan with the aim of installing Air Quality Monitoring equipment in Chirk that provides real time monitoring data that can be viewed directly by the community."

"Kronospan has written to those in the affected area to ask for their concerns if they have not already done so. We would encourage you to respond to this letter by emailing them on Office23@kronospan.co.uk or by calling 01691 775497 during office hours."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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