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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Official probe to be held into massive mountain fire

* The fire as seen from the town centre.

* County Councillors Melvyn Mile and Graham Timms on the Horseshoe Pass, scene of the fire last summer.

An official probe into the massive mountain fire near Llangollen last summer is to be held in March.

And the area’s two county councillors who called for it have welcomed he day-long evidence gathering meeting which will take place at the International Pavilion on Wednesday March 20.

The fire ripped through acres of moorland around Llantysilio and the Horseshoe Pass burning for six weeks in July and August.  

In September Llangollen councillors Graham Timms and Melvyn Mile called for the county council to hold an inquiry into the fire and its impact on the area.

As a result the council’s Communities Scrutiny Committee will hold the special meeting in March.

A letter to the councillors from committee chair Cllr Huw O Williams says: “We will be examining evidence from last summer’s fire on Llantysilio Mountain, near Llangollen, and its impact on the local area.

“For this purpose an evidence gathering a meeting of the committee will be held at the International Pavilion in Llangollen at 10am on Wednesday March 20. The meeting will have a morning and afternoon session and will be open to the public.

“The inquiry is not intended to apportion blame on any individual, service, organisation or group with respect of the fire or its management.

“Its aim is to understand what happened and learn lessons from the event in a bid to improve the management of similar incidents in future and minimise the disruption caused to nearby communities and businesses.

“At the morning session the committee will be examining evidence relating to the emergency services and other public organisations’ response to the fire along with the management of the incident.

“The afternoon session will be devoted to reviewing evidence relating to land management matters and the fire and incident management’s effect on local businesses, residents and communities.

“Representatives from various services, organisations, communities and businesses either involved or affected by the fire will be invited to give evidence at the meeting.

“In the meantime, the committee would also like to hear from individuals affected by the fire about their experiences during this time and the impact it had had on them, their businesses or community since.”

The letter adds that if anyone has photographic, video or written evidence they would like the committee to consider, they should send it to: Rhian Evans, Scrutiny Co-ordinator, Democratic Services, DCC, County Hall, Wynnstay Road, Ruthin LL15 1YN, or email to: by February 12.

Cllr Mile said: “We are keen that the response to the fire by North Wales emergency services, the Welsh Government and Denbighshire County Council is examined so that lessons can be learned to prevent such an event happening again.

“The fire caused devastation to the environment, flora and fauna as well as a prolonged effect on local farmers, businesses and communities. It is important that those affected by the fire will be given an opportunity to put evidence to the committee.” 

Cllr Timms said: “We asked for the committee to hold its meeting in Llangollen Pavilion to make it easy for those living near the fire site to attend. It is important that a full and detailed investigation is held.

“We have been working hard to get an important piece of evidence released by the Local Resilience Forum which is now expected very soon.

“Its report has been drawn up by the officers and emergency services involved in the response to the fire and we hope that it will help to enlighten us about the actual situation.

“There have been lots of rumours and misinformation about the fire and we need to be able to look at the evidence before jumping to conclusions.” 

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