Jan 16 2013 By Carmella De Lucia
DOZENS of firefighters battled for 13 hours to contain a fire at Stanlow which sent thick smoke billowing over Ellesmere Port.
At just before 8am on Saturday, residents living near Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow Refinery on Oil Sites Road were woken by sirens as a fire erupted on the site.
Thick black smoke was seen from miles away pouring over Cheshire Oaks and nearby residential estates, as dozens of firefighters battled to contain the flames rapidly spreading from a furnace on Platform Three.
Firefighters from Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Runcorn, Northwich, Crewe, Birchwood, Warrington and Chester fire stations spent 10 hours battling the blaze, working alongside firefighters from Stanlow’s fire service using foam to control the flames.
In the hours following the fire The Health Protection Agency issued a smoke inhalation warning to residents living close to the refinery, after thick, non-toxic smoke flared from an exhaust stack.
No-one was hurt in the fire, which saw firefighters finally leave the site at 10.30am the following day – almost 27 hours after the fire started.
Essar Oil UK Limited issued a statement wishing to apologise to people living near the site who may have been alarmed by the smoke and assured members of the public the smoke plume was stopped as soon as possible by in house firefighters.
A spokesperson for Essar Oil UK Limited said: “The fire was in the furnace of a secondary unit and did not impact either of the two main crude distillation units or the residue catalytic cracking unit.
“No-one has been injured during the incident. A full investigation has now begun.”
On the morning of the fire residents living across Ellesmere Port took to social networking site twitter to report concerns of seeing a ‘thick black cloud’, ‘billowing smoke’ and hearing a loud ‘air raid siren’ coming from the refiner.
At just after 5pm – nine hours after the fire started – firefighters from all across the region withdrew to a 25 metre cordon around the fire, and remained at the site overnight to monitor the remains of the fire, which was eventually extinguished at 9pm.
Crews remained at the site to help Essar’s firefighters monitor the cooling down of the furnace until 10.30am on Sunday, when the site was agreed to be stable.