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Sixty firefighters battle huge blaze at Essex car salvage auction

Seven hundred cars have been destroyed after a fire broke out at Copart UK in Rochford earlier this month. Essex Fire Service said that around 60 firefighters across 12 crews tackled the inferno.

700 cars were destroyed in the blaze but firefighters were able to create a fire break to stop the flames spreading to the rest of the vehicles on site, as it is thought that there were approximately 2000 vehicles on site at the time of the fire. The photos here clearly illustrate the ferocity of the fire and the extent of the damage caused.

Vehicles are stored on specialist vehicle racking at Copart, which maximises available storage on site by allowing salvaged cars to be stacked in rows and on multiple storeys, whilst they await their turn in the car auctions.

Thankfully no-one was harmed in this incident, however it serves as yet another reminder of how prolific fires are in the end-of-life vehicle industry and the importance of ongoing fire prevention to mitigate the risk of injury, death and harm to the environment.

Copart are an industry leader in used and salvaged car auctions handling more than 400,000 vehicles every year. Their processes and vigilance are second to none. However, this goes to show that even the most proactive and safety conscience businesses and operations can find themselves counting the cost of a serious workplace fire. Even though we acknowledge that storing heavily damaged vehicles carries risk, that doesn't mean we have to accept that workplace fires are unavoidable. By ensuring all reasonably practicable precautions are being addressed, business owners are doing everything within their power to mitigate this risk.

The cause of this fire at Rochford is still to be established, with the clean-up likely to run into the millions of pounds. But we must remember that not all costs are insurable and therefore recoverable - smaller operations that may not have access to spare capital to cover those uninsured losses, could find themselves forced out of business if they were to suffer a similar event. The biggest takeaway from this is that no-one lost their life and no-one was hurt, but that doesn't mean lives weren't put at risk. 60 firefighters had to tackle an inferno in a multi-storey structure for nearly 12 hours. Things can go wrong in these scenarios and often do. Lets ensure that as business owners we are confident that we have done everything within our power to ensure that lives are not needlessly placed in harms way.

ELV Training has one goal – to support the vehicle recycling industry by building competence and capability within it. With online training courses and three qualifications covering a wide spectrum of ELV disciplines including those fundamental to reducing the risk of ELV and scrap yard fires:

  • Fire Awareness

  • Evacuation Training

  • Emergency Spill Response

  • Abrasive Wheels

  • Explosive Atmospheres


  • Chemical Safety

  • Extraction and Storage of Fuel

  • Storage of Hazardous Components and Substances

  • Recovery and Flaring of Liquid Petroleum Gas



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