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'It could've been much worse' - skip firm 'lucky' after blaze tears through yard

PUBLISHED: 13:14 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:18 23 August 2019

Several fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: Archant

Several fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: Archant

Archant

A rural business says it had a lucky escape after firefighters stopped a large blaze at its base from spiralling out of control.

Several fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: ArchantSeveral fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: Archant

Crews were called to Sandy Lane in East Tuddenham just after 9pm on Thursday (August 23), following reports of a fire at a yard belonging to skip hire firm, Pips Skips.

Firefighters discovered a fire had ignited in a wood chipping bay and spent several hours battling the worst of the flames. Despite preventing the blaze from spreading, 40 tonnes of wood and a shredder were destroyed.

Crews remained on site through much of the day, as efforts were made to spread the chipping into a thin layer to stop the remaining embers from reigniting.

James Hyde, co-director at Pips Skips, says the company was 'lucky' to avoid more substantial damage. Picture: ArchantJames Hyde, co-director at Pips Skips, says the company was 'lucky' to avoid more substantial damage. Picture: Archant

James Hyde, a director at Pips Skips directors, said the company was fortunate to dodge more substantial destruction.

"We got a call from a local farm saying they could see something on fire," said Mr Hyde. "Our owner lives a few miles away so he came down straight away and, by the time I was on site, there was quite a big blaze.

"We've been fortunate enough not to have any fires before in 25 years. We wanted to get the lorries and other kit away from the fire, so it was all hands on deck.

Several fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: ArchantSeveral fire crews battled a large blaze at the Pips Skips yard in Hockering. Picture: Archant

"It's obviously not good, but in hindsight it could've been a lot worse. If the fire had reached our biomass building the consequences would've been really severe. We've got a shredder in there worth £400,000 so we've been lucky if you look at the bigger picture.

"At the moment we're not sure how it started. Fortunately all that's gone up is wood and obviously we've got retaining walls which kept the fire at bay."

With firefighters remaining at the yard today, an investigation is under way to establish the initial cause of the blaze.

A fire destroyed 40,000 tonnes of wood and a shredder at the Pips Skips yard in East Tuddenham. Picture: ArchantA fire destroyed 40,000 tonnes of wood and a shredder at the Pips Skips yard in East Tuddenham. Picture: Archant

Dereham station manager, Roger Mitchell, said he expected to stay at the yard until mid-afternoon before leaving matters in the hands of the owners.

"We had crews here through the night, but obviously conditions are difficult when it's dark," added Mr Mitchell. "We have to bear in mind safety and take into account the local environment with the run-off.

"It's fortunate the site has good precautions in place for this type of incident. The design of the chipping storage worked in our favour, so that was a big bonus for us."

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