All workers accounted for after blaze engulfs power station

 

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The Independent Online

A severe fire at a power station was brought under control last night.

At one point around 120 firefighters were tackling the blaze at Tilbury Power Station, which broke out in a fuel storage area at 7.45am.

Nobody was injured in the blaze and all employees have been accounted for, but Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS), said it was one of the most challenging fires he had dealt with in his 20-year career.

Earlier today, he said it involved 4-6,000 tonnes of biomass in a wood pellet hopper high up in the power station building.

Opened in 1969, Tilbury previously operated as a coal-fired power station but has been converted to generate power from 100 per cent sustainable biomass until its scheduled closure at the end of 2015.

Biomass plants burn wood pellets, generally made from compacted sawdust or other wastes from sawmilling and other manufactured wood products.

Mr Johnson said: "The fire involves 4-6,000 tonnes of bio mass high up in the power station building. The fuel goes into vats and is taken into the plant on a conveyor belt.

"The fuel cells are designed to carry dry fuel so pouring water on to them and making them significantly heavier could potentially damage the structure of the building.

"There is an added complication that when the cells get wet, then dried by the fire, a crust will develop making it impossible for more water to penetrate the fire underneath."

Fire crews were sent into the building to tackle the blaze using specialist high expansion foam on the burning hoppers to starve the fire of oxygen and create a safety blanket.

PA

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