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‘Catalogue of errors in sub-station fire’

Ward councillors in Cottingham say the Creyke Beck electricity substation blaze was a “disaster waiting to happen”.

An investigation is under way after more than 100,000 litres of mineral oil began burning last week at the site in Park Lane, north of Cottingham.

Smoke towered above the sub-station and could be seen for miles across East Yorkshire.

Cottingham councillor Ros Jump said there were a “catalogue of errors” involving fire crews getting to the sub-station to extinguish the blaze.

She claims once firefighters reached the site, they were unable to get through because of a locked gate and they didn’t have any bolt cutters.

Councillor Jump said: “I felt sorry for the crews. A resident had to get into the fire engine and direct them to the site after some ended up going all the way round Cottingham.

“When residents saw engines going down one road and then coming back up again, it was a bit worrying.

“You think they would know where they are going and not get lost using a satellite navigation system.

“They should have also been liaising more with the police because it was grid-locked down Dunswell Road with motorists stopping to take photographs.”

Councillor Jump slammed the logistics of the emergency response and said plans need to be put in place for any future problems at the sub-station.

She is meeting fellow ward councillor Geraldine Mathieson and an officer from the emergency planning team from Hull City Council to discuss their concerns.

Plans have been drawn up for a 2,600 wind turbine farm off Hornsea and power from the site will be transferred by cable from near Bridlington to the sub-station near Cottingham.

Councillors are worried if this goes ahead and there are problems at the sub-station in the future, fire crews will again not be able to get to the site.

A fire service spokesman said: “Following all incidents a debrief takes place to gather any learning points.

“We will carry out a full debrief following this incident and the issue of the locked gate will be highlighted.

“The locked gate didn’t prevent crews getting to the fire, as they took another route.”

Other crews were already on site tackling the blaze when the gate became a problem and firefighters responded within their target time.

The spokesman said it was normal for engines to approach a fire from more than one direction, a process known in the service as a “dual approach”.

She said: “Access to the site was not an issue.

“The locked gate on the railway will be considered in our debrief to determine if we need to implement any additional response procedures.

“Our normal response procedures where multiple appliances attend include the use of dual approach – so should an issue like this arise, not all attending appliances are affected. This did not impact on our operational response.”