Keele underground fire to be extinguished after 13 years

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Land north of Pepper Street, KeeleImage source, Google
Image caption,
Hollywood Lane, near Silverdale, will be closed for seven months to allow the fire to be extinguished

An underground colliery fire that has been smouldering for 13 years will be extinguished to make way for a housing development.

Staffordshire County Council has ordered Hollywood Lane, near Silverdale, to close for seven months to allow developer Keele Homes to put the spoil heap fire out.

Keele parish councillor Sue Hughes said extinguishing the fire would be unsafe.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council said it "remains a major safety risk".

"Leaving the spoil heap fire was the preferred approach in 2008" the council said, with the "expectancy that it would burn out naturally in the following two years".

"It's still burning 10 years later and the site remains a major safety risk and an eyesore.

"Homes can't be built until the developer arranges for the fire to be extinguished."

The development of 100 homes was approved by the borough council to be built on neighbouring land off Pepper Street, on the condition Keele Homes put out the fire and tidy the land.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, an image of the heat from the underground fire - taken four years ago - has previously revealed surface temperatures of more than 100C.

Experts suggest that the core temperature could be at least 150C higher than the surface.

It was claimed that the fire emits high levels of fumes and if left untreated could lead to surface fires.

Image source, Other
Image caption,
Silverdale Colliery closed in 1998 with the loss of hundreds of jobs

But Mrs Hughes pointed to a report commissioned by the county council and borough council in 2008, which advised against extinguishing the fire.

She said: "I don't think there will be any benefit in doing this."

Highways officials hope the fire will take less than seven months to put out, and hope the road will reopen by March 2019.

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