The cause of the fire which resulted in the destruction of 21 collection vehicles at the waste depot in Chickerell on Sunday 15 November has been revealed.
The report from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) has concluded that the fire started at around 1.20pm under the bonnet of one of the vehicles, most likely caused by the heavy rainstorms and high winds in Chickerell that afternoon. This apparently led to rainwater entering the vehicle’s electrical circuits, causing a short circuit, igniting the internal components of the vehicle and allowing the fire to take hold.
The report also notes that a lightning strike hitting the vehicle cannot be ruled out as there were several strikes in the area during that time period.
The fire then rapidly spread to the other adjacent vehicles as the flames were ‘wind driven’ eastward towards the site building.
Upon arrival at the scene, DWFRS’s officer-In-charge swiftly took the decision to protect the building as the water supply was limited, while waiting on other crews to arrive and help tackle the blaze. At its height, 15 fire engines and additional support vehicles attended the scene.
There were no indications of the fire being started deliberately. CCTV did not reveal any suspicious activity and there were no signs of the site being broken into.
Waste service employees were on site between 6am and 10am on the Sunday as part of their regular duties, but the vehicle where the fire started had not moved since Friday afternoon.
Dorset Council officers, having quickly restored waste collection services in Weymouth and Portland by hiring vehicles and borrowing others from elsewhere across the county, are still working on long-term solutions to the loss of most of the waste fleet covering the Weymouth and Portland area.
The fire has left waste collection services with reduced resources; the council also lost vehicles based at Ferndown and Wareham which were in the Crookhill depot for servicing. This could lead to disruption elsewhere in Dorset if an area has a collection vehicle breakdown in the near future.
While the full cost of the incident is still unknown, insurance arrangements cover the council for such an incident.
Cllr Jill Haynes, portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services said they would see if there are actions they could take to reduce the possibility of another freak occurrence like this happening again in the future.
She said, ”In the meantime, we will continue to provide these vital services while working toward getting permanent resources to replace what was lost in the fire.”
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