Appeal to parents after black smoke filled sky in scrap yard fire

Parents are being urged to know where their children are during the coronavirus lockdown after firefighters spent several hours tackling a suspected arson attack.

Monday, 13th April 2020, 9:57 am
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 10:16 am

Up to 20 people called 999 at 7pm on Sunday when a large plume of black smoke filled the sky.

Firefighters rushed to a scrap yard on Melrose Avenue in Westleigh, where caravans, cars and other items were alight.

Two fire engines attended, travelling from Wigan and Atherton, and spent three hours tackling the fire.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Firefighters spent three hours at the scrapyard

Carl Gleaves, watch manager at Wigan fire station, said: “As we got there we saw a big, black plume of smoke which was getting worse. We dealt with it with as few resources as we could.”

It was not a simple job though, due to the flammable items on the site including possible gas cylinders, windy weather and other factors.

He said: “We had difficulty in getting access due to the location and difficulty in getting water. There were plenty of hazards.

“It’s not like our bread-and-butter jobs and to understand where the dangers came from, we had to slow down and make sure people didn’t get hurt.”

Around half of the scrap yard was involved in the blaze and crews returned on Monday morning to check the fire had been fully extinguished.

It is thought the fire was started deliberately.

Mr Gleaves said: “We have reason to believe youths were in the vicinity and possibly set this deliberately. We have no evidence to back that up and have informed the police.

“It’s become a worrying trend at the moment, particularly during the lockdown, that youths are setting fire to things.”

He added: “Parents, keep a close eye on where your children are. They are clearly in breach of the rules issued by the Government at the minute.”

Anyone with information about the cause of the fire is asked to call police on 101.

A message from the Editorial Director, Gillian Parkinson:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy when you pop out for your essential shop or subscribing for delivery.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: "Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role."

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.


You can subscribe for delivery by contacting us at [email protected] or calling us on 0330 4033004 for details of a participating newsagent near you.