Published: 17:13, 28 September 2021
| Updated: 18:23, 28 September 2021
A recycling company destroyed by a huge blaze which "sounded like bombs were going off" has thanked the fire service for their rapid response.
More than 50 firefighters rushed to the Eurolink Industrial Estate in Sittingbourne on Saturday after an inferno, which involved a large amount of household rubbish, broke out at around 7pm.
A huge blaze ripped through Suez recycling centre in Sittingbourne
The blaze ruined the building owned by Suez recycling firm and lead to a 30-hour operation from firefighters to extinguish it, before leaving at midnight on Sunday.
Flames and smoke could be seen billowing from the factory, used by the recycling company Suez, which handles tonnes of commercial waste.
People living in Kemsley and Iwade, around four miles away, were warned to keep their windows and doors closed as a precaution, due to levels of smoke in the area, and some reported finding debris from the fire in their gardens.
At its height, 11 engines, a height vehicle and a bulk water carrier were at the scene battling the blaze, as well as a technical rescue unit and volunteer response team.
Eye witness Poppy Johnson, of Staplehurst Road, Sittingbourne, was on her way home when she saw a black cloud of smoke coming over the new Redrow homes site nearby.
She said: “I said to my partner ‘oh my god, is that a fire?’ and we followed the smoke to check if we needed to call the emergency services.
“We got near to Cooks Kitchen and it was there. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The whole rubbish site was on fire.
“I assumed it was batteries which had caught alight as you could hear loud explosions.
“It sounded like bombs were going off. All you could hear were loud bangs.
“We drove out of the road and there were loads of police, undercover police cars and the fire service already there. It was awful.”
On Sunday three fire engines remained at the scene as they continued to damp down hot spots, until all units were eventually stood down that night. Luckily, nobody was hurt in the blaze and the cause has not yet been established.
A spokesman for Suez thanked the fire service and insisted no waste and recycling collections from businesses in the area would be disrupted.
He added: “We don’t yet know what caused the fire, but a full investigation will be carried out. We intend to re-open once we have carried out all the necessary inspections and repairs.”
The blaze is not the first of its kind in the area after two fires at Sittingbourne recycling centres in recent years.
In 2013 around 300 tonnes of electrical equipment, which was waiting to be recycled, was destroyed by a fire at Sweeep Kuusakoski’s Gas Road site, which also left two men in hospital with injuries.
In 2020 another fire at that site saw three fire engines extinguish 80 tonnes of recycling at the centre, about a mile from this weekend’s blaze.