Firefighters’ six-hour battle to save mill

Reporter:

Matt Jones

MORE than 40 firefighters battled a severe blaze which ripped through a paper mill.

They fought the flames late on Sunday night at Oakenholt Paper Mill SCA Hygiene Products Ltd on Chester Road, Oakenholt, for six hours.

Witnesses have described how they saw clouds of smoke billowing from the tissue factory as crews tackled the blaze.

Kelly Griffiths, of Leadbrook Drive, saw the fire from his home, located across a field from the factory.

He said: “You could see the smoke billowing out. It looked like the roof was alight.

Luckily the smoke was blowing away from us and towards the road.

“At one stage we were worried because you don’t know what chemicals could be in it.

“We kept the windows closed and the dog inside.”

Another witness said: “There was smoke everywhere. It was thick smoke coming out of the paper mill.”

Fire chiefs say the blaze was extinguished just after 2am yesterday but the fire service remained at the site overnight.

They added the rooftop blaze was sparked by a fault in one of the machines at the factory.

Glyn Jones, from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Sprinklers were fitted in the building, but due to the internal height of the structure they did not fully extinguish the fire.

“Firefighters used main jets, hose reels and in excess of 50 sets of breathing apparatus to extinguish the high level fires."”

The fire affected the roof of the building which is constructed of insulated panel and block.

Colin Popplewell, site manager, said the company was open for business as usual yesterday despite the blaze and that employee safety was of primary concern.

He said: “No employees were injured. The team on shift at the time are to be credited for their swift response in implementing full fire safety procedures.

“Our thanks go to the emergency services that contained the fire.”

He added the firm is focusing on investigating the source of the fire and repairing damage caused to part of the building.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “Crews tackled the fire in three sectors, and due to the make up of the building and the severity of the fire were in attendance for several hours.

“Crews from Flint, Deeside, Buckley, Holywell, Mold and Chester, the aerial ladder platform from Wrexham, the incident command unit from Rhyl and the incident support unit from Mold were all in attendance.”

See full story in the Leader

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