Generator probe as mill still burns

Date published: 30 April 2009

A generator at the centre of investigations into the Maple Mill inferno — which continues to burn nine days on — has been removed by police.

Firefighters are still dealing with the aftermath of last Tuesday’s blaze which destroyed the main Maple Mill No 2 in Hathershaw.

The Health and Safety Executive is helping with the investigation into why fire ripped through Vance Miller’s Rock Solid Kitchens business, as Oldham Council untangles the legal ownerships and leases of the mill.

John Eley, assistant executive director Oldham Council, said: “We are now working with fire crews, contractors and other groups at the site to try and put out the fire as quickly as possible.

“With the fire weakening, a lot of smoke is now drifting close to ground level from the site which is causing some problems for residents living close by.

“We hope that this can now be resolved at the earliest opportunity so that residents can continue with their normal daily lives again.”

To help residents affected by smoke, the council has distributed regular information letters with contact details for support services.

There will also be a briefing for residents on Wednesday at the Honeywell Centre on Ashton Road, Hathershaw, at 10.30am, with council, fire, police and other organisations.

Oldham Council has stepped in to help firefighters by hiring contractors to remove rubble on the site and improve access. Parts of the fire have proved extremely difficult to reach, because of the large amount of debris on site.

The council worked with the contractors before the weekend to demolish any remaining dangerous structures, including one of the mill’s main towers.

All cordons beyond the mill have been lifted and residents returned to their homes, although there is still a cordon around the mill perimeter for safety reasons.

Greater Manchester Fire Service spokesman Paul Etches confirmed: “The fire started in the area around the generator, but whether it has come about because of mechanical failure or an accident is still be investigated.”

Jeremy Hall, the council’s building control group manager, said: “The latest information we have received from the Land Registry is that the site is owned by Mr Miller.

“We are currently making further inquiries regarding lease arrangements for the site.”