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200 cars destroyed in Essex vehicle recycling yard fire

A fire ripped through a Copart UK site in Purdeys Way, Rochford, Essex, at around 9 pm on Friday night (11 August), destroying 200 cars.


Around 60 firefighters were called to the scene and battled the blaze for more than 12 hours.

The fire was brought under control at around 11 am on Saturday, but crews remained on site to dampen down the flames.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but an investigation is underway.

Resident Dinah Symonds told the BBC she was awoken by explosions and feared the flames would spread towards her home. She said,

“That’s what really concerned us more than anything else, but it was quite spectacular.”

The site is operated by Copart UK, which is due to have a sale on Monday.

It is not yet known if any of the vehicles up for auction tomorrow were destroyed in the blaze.

However, around 10% of the vehicles at the scrapyard were wiped out, with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service saying there were 2,000 cars at the site.

A spokesman for the scrapyard said the cause of the fire would be investigated “once safe to do so”.

According to its latest accounts on Companies House for the year ending July 31, 2022, Copart had a turnover of £ 189.9 million and made an operating profit of £ 58.8 million.

The firm has sites in 15 UK towns and cities, as well as in Germany, Spain, and Finland.

A fire service spokesperson said during the incident:

“Nearby residents are being advised to close their windows.

‘The cars are stacked in rows of three storeys. Firefighters have the fire contained and have created a fire break to stop the fire spreading to the remaining cars.”


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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