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Firefighters remain on standby following grain silo explosion and fires at Tilbury docks

08 July 2020

Firefighters remain at the scene of a grain silo explosion at Tilbury docks, Essex after a blast caused significant damage on July 3. After containing an initial blaze, firefighters returned to the scene just two days later to extinguish another fire. As of July 8, some fire crews remain at the port.

Grain silos at Tilbury - Image:© Copyright Nick Smith /
Grain silos at Tilbury - Image:© Copyright Nick Smith /

The initial incident happened at around 08:55 on July 3 at the docks, around 50 miles (80km) east of London, and caused a fire to break out. The Essex Fire Service attended the scene and found that the roofs of several grain silos were blown off and grain had caught fire. No one was reported to be injured.
Fire crews were able to bring the fire under control but allowed grain to smoulder. Firefighters worked with the site managers to remove unaffected grain so that the fire did not spread. The Essex Fire Service said that the incident is contained within the grain silos and that there is no risk to neighbouring sites within the Port of Tilbury.
Firefighters were called back to the scene just two days later when further fires erupted. In total, 15 fire crews attended Tilbury docks in the days after the initial explosion to extinguish fires. Some fire crews were still at the site as of July 8. 
Tilbury docks is the UK’s largest grain terminal and has an annual capacity of around two million tonnes. The terminal has 200 separate silos capable of holding between 60 and 300 tonnes of grain.
In a statement, the Port of Tilbury said: “Operations at the silo itself will be closed until at least 31 July and we will provide a further update on this during the month. Grain handling and storage services however are still available from today (9 July) within the Port of Tilbury for our customers. We have complemented this with a significant quantity of offsite storage which has now been secured to back up quayside handling and storage.”
On July 7, the Essex Fire Service said it was continuing to work alongside site engineers, scientific advisors and other partner agencies to monitor the scene and to minimise the impact the incident has on the grain site. It added that crews would remain at the scene over the coming days.
An investigation into the initial explosion on July 3 is still underway. 
The incident came a few weeks after three workers were injured after an explosion at an oilseed processing factory in Erith, southeast London.

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