Fire crews in fight to contain huge blaze

Smoke billows from the Ravenhead fire
Smoke billows from the Ravenhead fire

ARSONISTS sparked a ferocious blaze which sent huge plumes of thick black smoke billowing across St Helens.

Firefighters were called to a yard on Burtonhead Road, Ravenhead, shortly after 4.30pm on Sunday (September 2) after more than a dozen worried onlookers called control room operators in a matter of minutes.

A large pile of lorry tyres and rubbish – including wood and paper – was well alight when crews arrived at the scene, and the flames also spread to the unoccupied FM Engineering business unit nearby.

The blaze was so intense that crews from St Helens, Eccleston and Whiston were forced to call for back-up from two further appliances – including one from Huyton.

Hoses and ground monitors, which are set up to spray water onto fires automatically, were both immediately set up at the scene.

Firefighters battled hard to prevent the flames from getting inside the business unit, although there was severe external damage caused to the wall cladding to the outside of the building.

Around a third of the contents of the ground floor room were left fire damaged. There was also some fire damage to part of a first floor office.

The incident was only scaled down by about 6.40pm.

Once the fire had been extinguished, crews also contacted St Helens Council to warn about fly tipped waste at the site, which had not been involved in the blaze.

Fire investigators have since determined that the cause of the blaze was a “suspected deliberate ignition”.

A member of the Incident Investigation Team said: “This was a private property of a company that had gone into receivership.

“The tyres and rubbish are most likely to have been illegally fly-tipped on the site and it posed a huge fire risk.”

They added: “We work with our partners and the police to combat fire risks such as this in the community and we investigate the cause of every fire we are called to and we pass the information we gather to the police to help them build cases to help prosecute offenders.”