It's not really that big a deal, there's no damage to the power station as such, it's just their giant woodpile burning...
Around 100 Firefighters are attending a 'severe' fire at Tilbury Power Station. The fire broke out at 07.45 hrs in a fuel storage area at Tilbury power station.
The Power Station has confirmed that all of its employees have been accounted for and have not sustained any injuries.
Update 09:00hrs: The officer in charge has reported that the fire is in a wood pellet hopper containing 2,100 tonnes of machinery and conveyance system. Crews report the area is well alight. Firefighters are tackling the blaze.
Update 09:40 hrs:
Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, Incident Commander, said that firefighting operations were being hindered by the fact that the fire is high up in the main structure of the building, making it difficult for crews to reach it. The whole of the building is heavily smoke logged and crews are devising a tactical plan to look at the safest possible way of getting foam onto the fire.
"The safety of our crews is paramount and because of the position of the fire and the structure of the building, it is not safe to commit them to the building immediately. We are getting as close as we can," he said.
"The fire involves some 4,000 tonnes of fuel in storage cells - at least two are very well alight.
"The blaze is generating a significant amount of smoke, but it is the same kind of smoke as that from a bonfire so we do not feel it will be necessary to evacuate across a wider area. Anyone living nearby should close their windows if the smoke is causing them a problem.
"We have had to isolate several high voltage power cables affected by the fire. At the moment we have significant resources on site - around 15 appliances with some 100 firefighters, three aerial ladder platforms, two command units."
A PRESS CENTRE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AT THE WORLD END PUBLIC HOUSE WHERE INTERVIEWS ARE AVAILABLE TO MEDIA ORGANISATIONS.Media organisations, please note - the fire at Tilbury Docks is unrelated to this incident. For information relating to the Power Station and any impact on the community, their press office can be contacted on 0845 0702807.
Update 10:30 hrs: Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, Incident Commander, reports that crews are now putting foam onto the fire. Fire officers have gone up in Essex Police's helicopter to get an aerial view of the site and to pinpoint hotspots as they work to bring the fire under control.
CFO Johnson said this was one of the most challenging fires he has had to deal with in his 20-year career because of the technical complexities.
"The fire involves 4-6,000 tonnes of bio mass high up in the power station building. The fuel goes into vats and is taking into the plant on a conveyor belt.
"The fuel cells are designed to carry dry fuel so pouring water onto them and making them significantly heavier could potentially damage the structure of the building. There is an added complication that when the cells get wet, then dried by the fire, a crust will develop making it impossible for more water to penetrate the fire underneath. That's why we are looking to use foam.
"Crews are faced with extremely difficult access, the fire is in one of the highest points of the building. Their safety remains our primary concern but firefighters are doing an excellent job and we very much appreciate the technical assistance being provided by the Power Station's own staff.
"The fire is not yet under control but we have the best equipment in the country in Essex and that is being used to maximum effect. We expect this to be a protracted incident going on for some hours, if not days."
"The Power Station has been closed down. There are currently some 120 firefighters working to bring the blaze under control."
Update 12:35 hrs: Chief Fire Officer David Johnson confirms that crews have now been committed to the building to tackle the fire and are applying a specialist high expansion foam to the burning hoppers to starve the fire of oxygen and create a safety blanket.
"It has taken us some time to establish that the structure of the building is safe enough for us to commit crews," said CFO Johnson. "But firefighters in breathing apparatus are now inside the building.
"They are doing an absolutely fantastic job in dangerous and punishing conditions. Inside the building it's hot, full of amoke and extremely dusty.
"We are using high expansion foam because it's light and will not affect the weight of the hoppers carrying dry pellets of wood like water would. Once we have covered the fire in a blanket of foam, the idea is that the fire will burn itself out.
"We have worked closely with Power Station staff to establish the best tactics to get the fire out quickly while making sure our crews are protected. The staff have been able to give us the technical information we need, along with plans of the site to ensure our first attack was as successful as it could be. We expect the fire to be out within the next two to three hours if everything goes according to plan."
Update 13:55 hrs: Deputy Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley reports that the tactics being used to tackle the blaze are having a good effect and that the smoke levels have reduced considerably. "We are making steady progress and if that continues, crews will be on top of the incident quite quickly now," he said.
Fire Authority Chairman, Councillor Anthony Hedley, who was able to observe the incident from one of the Service's Control Units, praised officers and firefighters. "I have been very impressed by the way officers formulated a highly technical plan to tackle the blaze and the way in which firefighters on the ground went to work. This was a particularly challenging incident and one which demonstrates to the public the breadth of appliances and equipment available to our firefighters to deliver a top flight response. Incidents like this endorse the Fire Authority decision to purchase five aerial ladder platforms - with three employed at this incident, there were still two left to cover the rest of the County had they been needed."
Update 14:48 hrs: The fire is under control and steady progress is being made. Crews continue to work in arduous conditions inside the Power Station building - three aerial ladder platforms are in use and internal firefighting operations continue. ECFRS is looking to bring in additional stocks of foam. This is likely to remain a protracted incident.
Update 15:40 hrs: We have no information relating to the cause of the incident at this stage, nor the extent of damage. Firefighters are still applying foam to the fire and expect to be doing so for three to four hours. The fire remains under control and steady progress is being made. An eight pump and one aerial ladder platform relief is currently being organised to relieve crews currently at the scene.
Update 17:08 hrs: DCFO Adam Eckley says crews are now on top of the fire. "Their excellent work in a dark, smoke-filled environment has contained the fire to two of eight hoppers in the building," he said. "We can now move onto the next phase of the operation which will involve removing all the material from the hopper. That will take five hours to set up and after that, two days to complete."
Not being mentioned in the news, is that there has been a second fire in a woodpile at the docks next door. "While crews are fighting a huge blaze at Tilbury Power Station, another has broken out coincidentally close by in the nearby Docks. ECFRS has had to call in crews from further afield to tackle this incident with more than 100 firefighters already in action at the Power Station.
This incident involves a piece of machinery and was quickly dealt with before it had a chance to spread. Firefighters used one hose reel and the incident was dealt with by 09:40 hrs."
What bothers me about this is that just last July there was a big fire at another local woodpile at Orsett (Rio-Recycling). It had to be left to burn itself out for about a week, with regular visits lasting three weeks before formally leaving the site. Followed soon afterwards with two more fires! So bearing this in mind, why on earth haven't the Health and Safety people who normally have to butt into everything. Identified the fire hazzard of these giant wood piles? Surely there should be some sort of bunkering arrangement to confine the combustion hazzards, and also some sort of sprinkler installation to quickly dowse the wood once a fire starts.