A FIRE in a waste depot burned for more than half an hour before it was detected, newly published reports reveal.

The blaze, caused by a barbecue, lit up Hollingdean waste transfer station in Brighton in the early hours of August 25.

Nearby resident Michael Montgomery, 62, said he was left unconscious and unable to breathe after fumes from the blaze fire poured into his council flat.

Another resident, Graham Ennis, 74, was diagnosed with inflammation of the lungs following the fire.

Yesterday, two reports into the blaze were made public. 

An incident report from Veolia, which examined CCTV from the scene of the fire, detailed how the first visible “hot spot” was detected at 10.16pm. Flames erupted at 10.37pm after an explosion, which inspectors believed was an aerosol or a battery.

However, it took a further 12 minutes before the fire detection system was activated, by which time the blaze was “well established”. 

It burned for 33 minutes before East Sussex Fire Rescue was alerted. Crews responded within about eight minutes.

Once they arrived at the scene, they could not find the Fire Information Box –  or did not find the keys in it. 

The box contains information about the site and keys to locked areas. The fire crews had to cut off the gate latch to gain access.

When a manager arrived on site the box was open and the plans to the site had been retrieved but keys to the site were still in the pocket inside the door.

The keys were then given to the incident commander to provide access through the pedestrian doors and remove gas bottles and cylinders.

An additional report from the council’s Cityclean service confirmed the fire had been caused by a barbecue put into the regular litter bins instead of the dedicated metal barbecue bins.

The council said it was difficult to detect hot loads in a litter bin 

Veolia said: “It has been shown that Cityclean have a procedure for handling disposable barbecues placed within dedicated bins, however this does not cover the eventuality of a disposable barbecue being placed in a regular street bin.”

The load containing the rogue barbecue is believed to have been picked up from the seafront and deposited at 9.20pm.

Veolia said because there were no loading shovel drivers on site, loads were “stacked” on top of each other which “presented more combustible material to the fire”.

Brighton and Hove city Council has invited residents  to a public meeting tonight which will explain the causes of the fire, the actions it has taken and what it is doing to try to prevent it happening again. It will take place at Downs Infant School in Rugby Road from 6pm to 8pm.

A council spokesman said: “There will be representatives of different agencies there to give their expertise and answer questions from the public. 

“The council, Veolia and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service agree the fire was likely to have been caused by a disposable barbecue that had been placed in an ordinary bin on the seafront rather than in one of the many dedicated barbecue bins.”