A serious fire broke out at a tyre recycling factory in Littleport, near Ely on the afternoon of Friday 21st August. The burning tyres created a 200 foot high plume of black smoke leading to a number of road closures and local residents being told to keep windows closed. The fire also caused a diesel tank and compressed gas cylinders on the site to explode.
Ten fire crews worked through the night to control the blaze but, despite their efforts the fire destroyed two neighbouring premises. Once the fire was under control, and there was no risk of it spreading, the decision was taken to scale down operations and let it burn out. As of Sunday 23rd August the plume of smoke was still very visible and the fire was expected to carry on for another few days. The smoke it is not believed to be toxic but local residents have been advised to consult their GP if they experience any problems.
Obviously this is a huge disruption for the owners of the tyre recycling plant and the neighbours whose premises were destroyed in the fire. One would presume that these neighbours knew the risk posed by the tyre plant but then, in the aftermath of the Buncefield Fire in 2005, it emerged that many businesses did not know that they were close to one of the largest fuel storage depots in Europe. As part of your Business Continuity programme, it is vital to carry out a thorough Risk Assessment to identify the threats to your organisation.
It is also important to bear in mind the knock-on effects on numerous local businesses that may have been impacted by loss of access to the site and local road closures. Business Continuity plans should take into account these everyday disruptions as well as catastrophic events.