Firefighters dodge needles and human excrement in drug den fire

Fire incident
Fire incident
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Brave firefighters risked their health battling through swathes of used needles to douse flames at a borough home.


Crews from Atherton and Leigh were called to reports of a blaze ripping through a private property on Wilkinson Street at around 8pm on Wednesday evening.

On arrival they were faced with a “severe” fire on the ground floor of the property.

Ian Gardner, watch manager for Atherton crew, said: “It’s a well-known drug spot. A lot of people go there to use drugs.

“The house itself was covered in syringes, needles and human excrement. It has massive implications.

“Our protective clothing is not syringe proof. In a house full of smoke you can’t see the dirty needles and syringes. It’s a massive health risk.

“Let alone the stuff you are smearing around.”

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, which caused significant damage to the house.

Firefighters took 90 minutes to tackle the blaze, clear the smoke and secure the property.

Crews used two hose reels, breathing apparatus and a ventilation fan to ensure all of the flames were out and the property secure.

They also used thermal imaging equipment to ensure that there was no one in the property.

Fortunately, the property owners were not home at the time of the blaze and all of the firefighters escaped uninjured.

“We are asking ourselves now what can be done about this house,” added watch manager Gardner.

“The problem is that this is not a council house. If it was then the council could move them on, but it’s private property. This is just the way they live, the way they choose to live.”

The crews subsequently conducted safety checks up and down the street.

Used needles pose a serious public health threat because they can injure people and can spread illnesses such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Wigan Council has a needle clean up service for any paraphernalia found in public places, however this does not include privately owned properties.

There is drug site in both Wigan and Leigh which offers a Needle Exchange Service and 26 borough pharmacies who offer the service free of charge.

All service users are encouraged to return sharp bins for a fresh one and information and advice is provided at the point of exchange.

Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership also work with a range of other organisations to ensure sharps bins are available across the borough,

To report used needles visit www.wigan.gov.uk/Report-it/Report-a-problem.aspx