Firefighters praised after battling four day blaze

Firefighters and Fire Control staff from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have been praised by bosses after a large fire at a recycling plant.

At 10:38pm on Monday, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) Fire Control received a call about a fire at a recycling plant in Birtley.

Quick to action, Fire Control got the first of nine appliances on the scene in just four minutes to begin tackling the intense fire at the premises on Durham Road.

Once on the scene, it was clear that the fire could put public safety at risk so TWFRS made a decision to declare a major incident just before midnight.

Due to the fire closeness to the East Coast mainline, trains were stopped for a period of time so that over 60 firefighters could get a handle on the situation.

An impressive amount of technology was used by TWFRS to help bring the blaze under control including drones, aerial ladder platforms, and thermal imaging cameras.

And today (Thursday), Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther has confirmed the fire is extinguished and has praised his staff for their efforts to keep their community safe.

He said “It’s been an incredibly tough four days for our operational crews and staff but I couldn’t be more proud of the way they have stepped up to the challenge.

“It’s not often that incidents like this happen in our region but I hope that this response shows our local communities that we will always be there when they need us.

“This is why we practice and test our skills, because when things like this happen we are quick into action and know what needs doing.

“I also want to thank our partners who have helped us throughout the four day effort, working so closely and sharing knowledge is key in situations like this and without them it would have been incredibly difficult.

“We work with blue light and other partners on the basis of Joint Emergency Service Interoperability Principles (JESIP) and these have stood us in good stead in working to resolve this emergency and support public safety.

“I’m extremely proud of my staff for their response.”

TWFRS have now left the scene after confirming the fire had been fully extinguished and the A167 reopened late on Wednesday evening.

A full investigation is now underway into the incident and TWFRS are supporting Northumbria Police who are treating the incident as a suspected arson.

If you have any information please contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of their website or by calling 101 quoting reference number NP-20220207-1158.

Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.