A crushed lithium ion battery caused a massive blaze at a recycling centre, a report has revealed.

The huge fire at the Guernsey Recycling site on the Channel island of Guernsey was tackled by 23 firefighters – including some from Guernsey Airport - and took 13 hours to douse.

It is believed to have started when a mechanical claw crushed a lithium battery.

This shows just how potentially dangerous crushed lithium batteries can be which is why on passenger planes cabin crew warn passengers to alert them if they lose their mobile phones down their seats. The danger is if they shift them the seat mechanism can crush the mobile phone, causing it to catch fire.

When that happens more than 65 airline companies now carry AvSax fire containment bags to deal with the problem. More than 13,500 AvSax are now on planes worldwide.

The report into the Guernsey fire found 14 areas for improvements including stopping "hazardous waste" being taken to the site.

It revealed that lithium batteries had not been removed from materials delivered to the site.

According to the BBC, Chief Fire Officer Jon Le Page, who drew up the report, said the problems with disposing of batteries were not unique to the island and that more education on the dangers was needed.

The blaze - which pushed the fire service "to its limits" - was discovered when staff started to sort through the material.


The report's recommendations include:

  • The States of Guernsey and Guernsey Recycling look at how to ensure all hazardous material is removed before waste is processed.
  • Improvements to the site's quarantine area to ensure fires can be dealt with without fear of fire spreading
  • Annual fire training for staff.
  • Using the example of the fire to create training simulation for Joint Emergency Services Control Centre operators to develop experience of major incidents.