A MAJOR tyre fire which has raged through the week will have “multiple, far-reaching” effects on the city, Bradford Council has said.
Fire crews from across the district rushed to the blaze, on Upper Castle Street, East Bowling, in the early hours of Monday morning.
At its height, around 100 firefighters were at the scene, tackling huge flames bursting from the mass of tyres at the former go-kart track.
The fire was declared a major incident and has caused untold disruption throughout the week, with train services suspended, businesses hit, school and road closures, plus the worrying health implications wrought by the pall of thick smoke hanging over the city.
A number of schools in the area remained closed yesterday, including Rainbow Primary School on Nelson Street, where pupils had to resort to remote learning due to “dangerous levels of acrid smoke”.
Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said the fire has had a “hugely detrimental impact” on the community.
He added: “Yet it could have been so much worse and I want to thank our emergency services, many of whom are still at the scene, for their work in keeping residents safe.
“Whilst the immediate priority must, of course, be on protecting local residents and businesses, we cannot escape the reality that this fire will continue to have an impact after it has been extinguished, with toxic chemicals expelled into the atmosphere and the local environment.
“I am therefore continuing to liaise with all local agencies to ensure that residents, businesses and our environment are protected.”
Speaking of the impact, councillor Talat Sajawal (Independent, Little Horton) said: “I think it’s huge, it’s massive.
“I think the businesses, there’s devastation really, going through this pandemic, stopping and starting for the best part of a year. Having this on top of that has a massive impact.”
He said businesses in the area of the fire employ a lot of people, so the impact is also felt by their workers, and ultimately, local families.
Cllr Sajawal added: “I want to commend the fire service, the police and the Council for their response. The investigation is moving quite quickly, they’ve made two arrests.
“I just hope that if there is foul play, people will be brought to justice and held to account.”
Bradford Council said it was too early to assess the full impact of the fire, but that it would be “far-reaching”.
A spokesperson said: “As the fire is still on-going and the clean-up operation has not yet begun, it would be far too early to try assess the social and economic costs of this major incident, especially as it involves a number of public and private agencies and has multiple far-reaching effects on residents, travellers, businesses and schools.
“There is no doubt that this incident has had a huge impact on businesses and on the running of the city and we extend our sympathy to all those affected, but it is too early to assess the quantum of that.”
The Council said yesterday afternoon that it was allowing as many businesses as possible back to their premises and continued to advise people to keep their doors and windows shut.
Vital means of transport have also taken a hit because of the fire with no trains running in or out of Bradford Interchange for much of the week, resulting in major disruption across the rail network. Trains from Bradford Interchange connect the city to a number of locations including Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Halifax and Leeds.
Last night, Network Rail said its teams had inspected railway equipment following the fire and some services had resumed.
However, people were warned of ongoing disruption because of smoke in the area.
There was still a significant presence from the fire service at the scene of the blaze yesterday, with eight fire engines and one aerial ladder in operation.
On Tuesday, West Yorkshire Police officers arrested a 59-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman in North Yorkshire in connection with the fire, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson. Both were interviewed by police on Tuesday night and were released on bail.
Dave Walton, deputy chief fire officer at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the incident had been a “massive draw” on resources of all agencies involved. He urged anyone with information to contact police.