A major investigation has been launched into a fire at an inner city waste transfer site that left Lambeth residents choking and drove some from their homes.
The blaze erupted at Shakespeare Road, Herne Hill, earlier this month and took firefighters days to bring under control.
Around 100 firefighters from Brixton, Clapham, West Norwood and Peckham battled not only fire but water shortages and finally extinguished the flames four days later.
Residents were left wheezing and with streaming eyes as smoke entered homes on some of the hottest days of the year, forcing occupants to keep all windows and doors shut.
One week after the incident, some are still complaining of parosmia, causing the persistent smell of smoke.
Another homeowner revealed on a neighbourhood WhatsApp group chat that she was forced to leave her house entirely because of the fumes and smoke.
Today, the Environment Agency revealed they have launched a major investigation into the fire.
It is expected to probe how the fire started and why it took so long to bring it under control.
Lambeth cabinet member Jim Dickson, in a message to residents voiced fears of “a very worrying lack of safety precautions” in place at the site, located in a densely populated area.
Lambeth Council were unable to comment further on the investigation.
Mystery surrounds who is responsible for the site where the blaze took place.
Norris Waste Management Services, whose sign is still outside, ran operations there until January at which point they began to sublet the space to developers, Urban and Provincial, who were unable to comment.
At the height of the blaze, firefighting operations were hampered by water supply problems.
Firefighters had to pump water hundreds of yards by hose to the site from Loughborough Junction, which is just north of Brixton.
As fumes and smoke entered nearby homes, some inhabitants reported wearing face masks to combat the effects.
Many in the area are now demanding to know whether hazardous materials were involved in the fire and if the subsequent pollution was harmful.
In Dickson’s letter to the community he stated that a report by the Environment Agency and UK Health Security Agency concluded the air quality risks were low as long as the health advice to keep windows and doors closed was followed.
Many residents were unable to keep windows closed however, due to the intense late summer heat.
The Environment Agency said that because it’s an ongoing investigation they would not reveal when it would start, when it would conclude or even what the terms of reference were.
Picture credit: London Fire Brigade