Video and pictures: Major fire in York ‘was arson’ say devastated business owners

Flames from the Osbaldwick blaze in a still from Grace Winpenny's video
2 Oct 2015 @ 7.20 pm
| News
This remarkable picture showing the smoke drifting over York was taken by reader Lisa Harley
This remarkable picture showing the smoke drifting over York was taken by reader Lisa Harley

Updated Friday at 8.56pm Friday

A large fire in York that has caused thousands of pounds of damage was arson, a devastated business owner has told YorkMix.

The blaze was in the yard of Martins Of York, the waste management firm, in Osbaldwick Lane.

It was founded by Tony Martin in 1996 and is still a family business, run by him, his wife Myra, and their children Jason and Clare.

Thick black smoke was sent billowing into the sky across York by the fire, which was first reported at about 6.30pm on Friday (October 2).

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service received numerous calls. On arrival they discovered a large amount of waste material on fire in the Martins Of York yard.

Three fire crews are tackling the blaze, which is under control. Staff from the business are helping fire fighters by raking through the fire-damaged remains so their water jets can reach the embers beneath.

‘The flames were pretty big’

Grace Winpenny, 22, shot this video of the fire. She first realised there was a blaze at about 6.30pm when she saw the smoke.

She told YorkMix:

I could see two different colours of smoke, brown and a grey colour. That went up hundreds of feet into the sky.

The flames were pretty big. The pile of rubbish was quite high up. There was metal, there was wood, big piles of it.

Occasionally there was a popping sound. There were about 20 people watching, and some cars which came down the street. They all stayed a good distance back.

You could only stand there so long before you coughed. You could smell something unpleasant.

There were three fire engines and a police car.

‘Someone’s set fire to it’

The smoke is seen billowing into the sky in these photographs by Lorraine Eadie
The smoke billowing into the sky over York. Photographs by Lorraine Eadie

Myra Martin, who lives in Osbaldwick, first became aware of the blaze at her family business when she spotted the smoke out of her window.

She told YorkMix:

Someone’s been in and set fire to it. Police are classing it as arson.

There’s thousands of pounds worth of machinery been destroyed.

She said someone had broken in after they had locked up for the day and left. They appear to have started the fire in a load of waste being prepared for recycling.

Myra appealed for local people’s help in tracking down the arsonist.

A trommel machine, which separates the waste, and a picking station – a large industrial conveyor belt – had both been destroyed in the fire.

One bit of good news – the company’s fleet of 12 vehicles were parked away from the blaze and have not been affected.

Myra said this was not the first break in at the yard.

“We get them in all the time,” she said. “We report it time after time to police. We get an incident number and nothing else.”

How does she feel about what has happened? “Mad. We work really hard. All the lads who work for us do, we do, the four of us – and somebody comes in and does this.”

‘I feel so frustrated’

Another view of the smoke
Another view of the smoke

The firm employs about 22 people altogether. She said the clean up operation would start tomorrow. The waste would have to be processed off site until the yard was fully functioning again.

“It’s been going on for years,” Myra said. “The break ins, stuff stolen, taking a machine and running it through some doors – loads of stuff like that.

“We’ve got big, wire fencing but they just come through the wall. You’ve no hope, you know?

“It looks like we’re going to have to pay security guards with dogs.”

She added:

I feel so frustrated. I could have gone mad tonight. I could not believe it.

If you have any information on who might have started the fire, contact York police on 101.