'Hellish inferno': Westhampnett fire witnesses on what they saw

Picture by Kate Shemilt
Picture by Kate Shemilt

Witnesses of the 'hellish inferno' at Westhampnett tip have told of what they saw and how they have been affected.

Stane Street resident Gavin Argent lives only a few hundred yards from the tip.

He said: "What happened, in fact, funnily enough our daughter at university sent a test down saying there was a fire at Westhampnett tip. She'd seen it on Facebook or something, West Sussex fire brigade Facebook page.

"We looked out of the window and saw this enormous conflagration. It seems as thought there were two seats of fire — one over to the left and one over to the right — massive smoke on the right and a hellish inferno on the left."

Mr Argent said he had not been affected by the smoke and said: "The smoke was blowing west over to the east rather than the normal south to south westerly wind that we get up here so we haven't yet been affected by it, no."

He added that he had been affected by the closure of the tip.

"As far as the inconvenience is concerned. If the tip is closed for weeks or months, as is likely from the enormous damage which I assume has been caused, it's going to be really difficult for us because we are hopefully going to be moving home at some stage in the next six months and we have already started taking the accumulation over the years of junk down there on a fairly regularly basis."

Mr Argent has a full trailer in his yard and now is unsure where to dispose of it.

Karla Baker, who works in The Pass street food café along the Chichester Bypass said she had been serving food to fire service staff this morning.

"We had seven of the firemen that had been at the tip. They said that they were the relief firemen and that they had been there for four and a half hours and that the smoke had been going in the opposite direction so it hadn't affected the local school and it would be on fire for the rest of today anyway.

"I think they said there were four fire engines there and that they didn't know the cause of the fire, only that 50 per cent of the waste had caught fire, and that's it.

"We haven't been affected by it apart from serving the firemen food and drink really that stopped by. They had worked an extra half a shift so that everyone could cover to have appropriate breaks, so we haven't really been affected by it only trying to make sure they get food and drink really."