A PENSIONER diagnosed with a chemical lung condition after a waste depot fire is calling for others to get tested – and declared he is suing the council.

Graham Ennis, 74, urged people suffering from breathing problems to see their GP after a cloud of smoke poured from the blaze at a refuse plant in Brighton last month.

He said those living near the Hollingdean Lane waste transfer station or in Hove, where the smoke eventually descended, are most at risk.

Graham was diagnosed with chemical pneumonitis – inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling irritants such as noxious fumes – after the fire broke out metres from his council tower block flat.

On the night of the fire, August 25, he said he woke with his eyes burning and his face covered in ash. Since then, he said he has been wheezing, bringing up phlegm and coughing blood.

At a heated residents’ meeting in packed room in Dudeney Lodge tower block where they live, he threatened to sue Brighton and Hove City Council.

He stood up and addressed the council’s representative Simon Bannister, saying: “I’m going to take legal proceedings against you.

“Everyone needs to be tested. It’s not just us: it’s the whole neighbourhood. There may be several hundred people affected.

“The hot smoke rose and descended on Hove. A lot of people could have been contaminated.”

Video footage taken at the time of the fire shows large clouds of smoke rising towards the tower block. Fire crews battled the blaze for 12 hours and brought it under control. At the time, no injuries were reported.

Graham said: “There are a huge number of people who may be sick. There are children in the area who may have this. But the council has taken no interest.”

Graham claimed residents have had no proper support from the council. He said: “There’s been no washdown, and they’ve fobbed me off.

“They think council tenants are thick. But I’m suing the council and I have a stack of medical evidence.”

He also blames the council for giving planning permission for the depot in the first place.

Other residents in the tower block have complained of sore throats and difficulty breathing.

They expressed fears that nothing had been done to prevent this happening again, and accused the council of ignoring vulnerable people.

Tenant Dean Martin said: “There are more and more vulnerable and elderly people in this building. Why doesn’t the council send someone to check on them? No one seems to care or do anything. These are council flats – it’s something the council should be looking at.”

Council official Rebecca Mann, from the housing department, who was meant to attend the meeting pulled out and another officer was sent to listen to residents’ complaints instead.

In answer to several of their questions, he said he could not provide full answers at this stage because he was not aware of the specifics.

Residents said they had been sent a text by the council a week after the fire telling them to shut their windows.

They dismissed the council’s response as “bulls*** and rubbish”.

Those at the meeting were also frustrated by the order of the night’s agenda. Before discussing the fire, residents had to discuss installing flowerbeds, lighting up noticeboards and mending the tower block doors.

Tenant Lee Hargie called out: “Any feedback on the toxic smoke that we’ve all been breathing in?”

A spokesman for Veolia, the company in charge of the rubbish depot, said: “We are meeting with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service at the end of this week to conclude the outstanding investigation into this incident. At this stage it remains the case that the cause was a disposable barbecue. Any resident who feels their breathing has been affected should speak to their medical practitioner for further advice.”

Graham said he has taken samples of the pollution from his bedroom wall with Sellotape and wants answers about the cause of the fire. A spokeswoman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue said earlier suggestions it was a disposable barbecue were based on common causes of such fires, and the source in this case had not yet been determined.