'Challenging' fire at lead factory took more than four hours to extinguish

Smoke filled the air near Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City after the blaze at an industrial site. 

Smoke filled the air near Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City after the blaze at an industrial site. - Credit: Lisa Moulder

A fire at a lead factory and industrial site in Welwyn Garden City was extinguished after more than four hours. 

Herts Fire and Rescue attended the blaze at the BLM British Lead site on Peartree Lane at 12:40pm yesterday.

When firefighters from Welwyn Garden City fire station passed by the site they noticed smoke billowing from the industrial site. After investigating, the fire crew found a significant fire in an industrial air filtration unit, so 10 fire engines and several support units were sent to the scene.

A drone in operation over the BLM British Lead site on Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City

A drone in operation over the BLM British Lead site on Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City during the fire - Credit: Potters Bar Fire Station

In a statement, a spokesman for Herts Fire and Rescue Service said: "It proved a technically challenging incident for firefighters. It was difficult for crews to get to the seat of the fire within the filtration unit, and incident commanders were also initially concerned about firefighters potentially being exposed to toxic materials within the filters, which meant extra safety precautions had to be taken.

"Subsequent advice from specialist site staff and fire service scientific experts confirmed that filters and smoke produced were no more toxic than smoke usually is."


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The fire was then put out at 5pm with crew remaining on scene to damp down the fire, and carry out regular reinspections throughout the evening.

An investigation into the exact cause of the fire is taking place this morning, but it is believed to be accidental.

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No one was injured in the fire, according to BLM British Lead, whose business refines scrap lead into rolled lead for new uses. 

The company said in a statement: "Yesterday afternoon at British Lead Mills, a fire occurred and was contained in the baghouse [the air filtration unit] on the periphery of our facility.  

A drone in operation over the BLM British Lead site on Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City during the fire

A drone in operation over the BLM British Lead site on Peartree Lane in Welwyn Garden City during the fire - Credit: Potters Bar Fire Station

"We are pleased to report that all of our employees were accounted for and no one was injured, and also that the rest of the equipment and the remainder of the facility have not been damaged or impacted.  

"Our emergency response plan was immediately activated, and we are grateful to the emergency services for their effective response. 

"While the area of the plant serviced by the baghouse will remain closed for repairs, our main business remains unimpacted by the interruption and the plant has resumed normal operations today with all employees returning to work.”

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