Trial under way to extinguish Wigan borough underground fire

A three-week trial to extinguish two hotspots at a small underground fire in Wigan borough will begin this month.
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Alongside Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), Wigan Council has been closely monitoring the issue at Green Lane in Leigh – known locally as Queensway – since 2021.

From mid-August, the local authority will begin working on site with a specialist contractor to trial a new method with the aim of extinguishing two of the fire’s hotspots.

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Director of place at Wigan Council, Aidan Thatcher, said: “I really want to reassure everyone that there continues to pose no risk to the homes near to the underground fire, either from the fire itself or from the planned trial.

GMFRS and Wigan Council have been monitoring the Queensway siteGMFRS and Wigan Council have been monitoring the Queensway site
GMFRS and Wigan Council have been monitoring the Queensway site
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“We want to be proactive in tackling the underground fire and ensure it continues to present no risk, and to reduce the impact it is having on the local woodland.”

The Council is working with specialist designers and contractors Wardell Armstrong LLP and Landfill Projects.

Service director at Wardell Armstrong LLP, Gavin Campbell, said: “Wigan Council have commissioned us as specialists to carry out this trial injection grouting within a small area of smouldering colliery spoil in Queensway Tip in Leigh.

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“The work involves the placement of small quantities of a liquid grout to control and extinguish the fire.

“In the past, tip fires in the borough have been remediated by excavation, cooling and replacement.

“The trial will not involve significant excavations and should have minimal environmental impact.

“The site working area will be secured during the trial to ensure the safety of members of the public, with appropriate warning signs posted.

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“If the grouting trial is successful it could provide a quicker, cheaper and more sustainable method to extinguish the subsurface smouldering fill beneath a small part of the site.”

Leigh station manager for GMFRS, Phillip Mellor, said: “Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are pleased to be working alongside Wigan Council and partners to help address the legacy sub-surface fire at Queensway in Leigh.

“We have attended the site with Wigan Council and the upcoming works further demonstrate the council’s commitment to address the fire and will help pave the way to a long-term solution.”

Wigan Council has taken a partnership approach to the work, hosting conversations with the Forestry Commission to ensure as few trees as possible are affected while the work continues.

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However, some trees will need to be felled but most of those impacted will already be dead due to the impact of the fire and heat, and existing access routes will be used to minimise the number as much as possible.

August marks the end of the nesting season so the team do not expect to encounter nesting birds but all affected trees will be checked for nests before they are felled.

Aidan said: “After this three-week trial, we will evaluate how well it has worked and see if it’s something we think we could successfully do across the wider site.

“This site continues to be closed to the public and we’d like to remind everyone to not enter the site, for the safety and the safety of those carrying out these works. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.”