Beenham wood mulch fire still burning after 10 weeks

The compost heap at Beenham
Image caption The fermenting wood mulch has been burning since November

A fire at a compost-making plant in Berkshire which began at the end of November is still burning.

The fire service had estimated the 1,000 tonnes of smouldering wood mulch at the site in Beenham would stop burning by the start of February.

Residents on Bath Road in Beenham say the amount of smoke has been "dreadful" and want the fire put out.

A fire service spokeswoman said it was "difficult to put a time frame" on the burning process.

Janis Daly, who lives near the compost site on Bath Road, said "the house just reeked" when she returned from a trip abroad in December, despite having double glazing.

'Massive ash cloud'

Mrs Daly sits on the Beenham Liaison Committee and said residents were concerned by the smoke.

The piles of mulch belong to Good2Grow, which leased the land from waste management firm Grundon to run a composting facility, but ceased trading before the fire broke out.

Image caption The villages of Padworth and Aldermaston have been affected by the smoke

An Environment Agency spokesman said it had received five more complaints in the past month, bringing the total to 20.

He added the agency was still investigating the company to see if it had breached any of its permit conditions.

Good2Grow has been unavailable for comment.

Mrs Daly said the committee would like Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to extinguish the fire, which started accidently due to the heat of the biodegrading compost on 30 November.

"We think it's time they took an active stand," she said.

Fire service spokeswoman Nicole Targett said the smouldering piles were now mostly ash and that pouring water on them would create a "massive ash cloud".

She said the burning was likely to last "another few weeks" and that the fire service was still monitoring the area.

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