Essex

Tilbury power station fire: Crews investigate blaze

Tilbury power station fire
Image caption Firefighters said it was a technically challenging fire

Fire crews are continuing to deal with the aftermath of a fire at an Essex power station.

The blaze in two biomass storage hoppers at Tilbury power station broke out on Monday morning, but was brought under control by late afternoon.

Eight crews remained overnight to begin removing wooden pellets from nearby hoppers and to make preparations to empty embers from the affected ones.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of the fire.

The deputy chief fire officer of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Adam Eckley, said early indications suggested the fire may have started in conveyor belts above the hoppers, with material from that dropping into them.

'Frustratingly slow'

He said: "Operations overnight looked at moving the affected biomass out of those two bunkers away from the site, but it was frustratingly slow progress, unfortunately."

It is expected it could take up to two days for the embers to be removed.

A foam blanket is being maintained on the affected hoppers to prevent the fire re-igniting.

The hoppers are about 60ft (18m) deep and can each hold up to 600 tonnes of wood pellets.

Mr Eckley said it was one of the largest fires the service had ever encountered.

At its height more than 120 firefighters were on site. Six crews are currently still there.

Tilbury power station manager Nigel Staves said all staff would be back on site on Tuesday and it was unlikely jobs would be affected by the fire.

Damage assessment

"There is no immediate threat to jobs at the power station, quite the reverse," he said.

"We need the people here to actually get things back together again, once we can get to assess the damage."

Mr Staves said it was still too soon to know when the power station, which supplies 1% of electricity to the National Grid, would return to full capacity.

"Obviously we're going to have to assess the damage and the cost and the amount of time it will take to repair, but we have one unit that is available to generate electricity," he said.

"I'm hoping that once we can get to look at the damage and do a full assessment we can return the other two units to service as quickly as possible."

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