Cause of Newhaven scrapyard blaze a mystery

Fire chiefs have confirmed this week that they will never know for sure what sparked the major blaze at a Newhaven scrap metal yard this week.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 6:10 pm

Residents were warned to stay indoors and close windows and doors after a scrap metal blaze on East Quay spread a plume of smoke over the town on Monday afternoon.

Firecrews from Newhaven, Lewes, Roedean and Preston Circus used an aerial ladder platform to tackle the fire.

Eastbourne RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat team gave safety cover for crews dealing with the incident.

Photo by Richard West

The fire broke out at the metal scrapyard operated by H. Ripley and Co Ltd.

A major worry was the plume of thick smoke which enveloped the site. There were no reports of injuries. By 7.30pm the incident was scaled down.

An East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Crews tackled a deep-seated fire involving scrap metal over an area of 100 by 30 metres. People were urged not to go to the area unless they had to.”

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said: “Please thank all the crews involved in tackling the fire at the site in Newhaven.”

The Eastbourne lifeboat assisting firefighters at the scrapyard blaze in Newhaven. Pphoto by Pete Abel

Sussex Fire Control responded: “It was a busy non-stop afternoon liaising with the RNLI, environment Agency and Network Rail, specialist officers and requesting national assets from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service while managing the response to a rescue for water from West Sussex.”

The incident commander said: “The cause is believed to have been accidental and probably caused by a lithium battery.

“However, this has not been confirmed as no formal fire investigation took place due to the large amount of scrap metal involved.

“The incident has now been closed and has been handed back to Ripleys.”