A MAJOR fire that gutted a waste site was caused by "spontaneous combustion" of waste.

The blaze, on August 11, destroyed much of the Associated Waste Management site on Canal Road, Shipley.

It was one of the biggest fires West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service had to deal with in 2018, with 90 firefighters and 15 engines attending the incident.

The site has not been used since.

The fire was discussed by members of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority on Friday, where members were told that the official cause of the fire was "natural spontaneous heating of decomposing waste."

A report into the fire revealed that engines attended the fire from Cookridge, Moortown, Stanningley, Bingley, Fairweather Green, Keighley, Rawdon, Cleckheaton, Halifax, Slaithwaite and Dewsbury.

Specialist units sent to the fire included the Personnel Welfare Unit from Skelmanthorpe, Command Unit and Support from Pontefract, Command Unit Assistants from Leeds, Rapid Deployment Safety Crew from Rothwell, Hose Layer from Otley, Aerial appliances from Leeds and Wakefield, Command Unit Sector Support from Rastrick and a water supplement pump from Morley.

Dave Walton, Deputy Chief Fire Officer told the meeting staff from the service were taking extra training in how to deal with waste fires to deal with any future incidents in the district. He said: "A lot of research has been done in recent years on the best ways to fight fires in waste.

Kirklees Councillor Lisa Holmes said: "It says the cause is spontaneous combustion. What can we do to stop that happening if fires can just start like that?"

Mr Walton replied: "It is a natural process, there is not much we can do to stop it, but we can help prevent it by the way waste is stored. If sites process waste as swiftly as possible that will help."

The AWM site has now been cleared, but the company has continued to operate from different sites.

After the meeting Mike Robinson from AWM told the Telegraph & Argus: "Unfortunately waste can be hazardous, and we're aware these things can happen.

"It was a very significant operation by the fire service. It was very sad because we did an awful lot of community engagement in that area, and a lot of groups got in touch after the fire to say how sad they were it happened."

He said the fire service were now regularly invited to the company's other sites.

Other major fires in recent months included a blaze at Midland Road, Hunslet on August 19, and involved 2,000 new wheelie bins stored adjacent to a warehouse. It was dealt with by 32 firefighters.

The cause of that fire was thought to be deliberate.

A barn fire at Skelton Moor Farm, Halton Moor Road, Halton, Leeds on August 20 was also thought to be deliberate started.

The barn was two storeys and measured between 200 and 500 square metres. The incident is still being investigated.