Major fire operation at Leslie paper mill

Cabbagehall entrance to Leslie Papermill where there was a fire
Cabbagehall entrance to Leslie Papermill where there was a fire

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing into the cause of a blaze which tied-up fire crews at a Leslie paper mill for 24 hours, reports MIKE DELANEY.

An undisclosed quantity of waste paper is believed to have been destroyed in the incident at Sapphire Mill, to which firefighters were summoned around 3pm a week past Tuesday.

At the height of the fire, five appliances were on site at the facility, which was opened last year by Northumberland-based Fourstones Group, restoring the centuries-old tradition of paper-making to the town for the first time since Smith Anderson closed its mill there four years ago.

The mill - formerly known as Fettykil - uses locally-sourced waste paper to make re-cycled products and it is understood that it was the former which caught fire while waiting to be processed.

Firefighters worked through the night and into the following afternoon to quell the flames, helped by the mill’s workers and machinery.

A Fife Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “Initially, after we received the call-out, one appliance, which was from Methil, but had been in Glenrothes, went to the mill.

“Very quickly, the crew asked for another two to attend and they came from Methil and Kirkcaldy.

“Shortly after that, they requested a fourth, so two more went along from Glenrothes, as there is always one spare at a call-out.

“During the operation, they used equipment including two main jets, a ground monitor and a curtain appliance.

“One appliance continued working at the mill on Wednesday, turning over and damping down.”

Mill Managing director, Peter Duxbury, said: “All we know for sure at this point is that there was a fire on a stack of waste paper on site.

“It wasn’t a major fire, and was quickly brought under control, but it’s obviously something that we don’t want to happen again.

“There was no damage to buildings, or machinery and no one was hurt, although we had to stop production for a while.

“It’s something that we are still investigating.”

A spark from a grinder was blamed for causing the blaze which destroyed the roof of a building under demolition at Tullis Russell paper mill the previous week.

But Mr Duxbury denied claims made elsewhere that the paper could have caught fire because of sparks caused by welding operations.

A Fife Police spokesman said there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the incident.