THE clean-up operation from unauthorised bonfires on a Preston estate could cost more than £4,000, it has been revealed.
Fly tippers dumped piles of household waste on land around Moor Nook, including foam furniture, aerosols and even windows with broken glass panes.
Council bosses will now begin the major task of clearing up the mess, and have slammed a “wanton disregard” for the area.
Paul Cookson, an enforcement officer for the council, said there was a major bonfire on Greenthorn Crescent opposite the junction with Whitmore Drive, with four other areas of burning along Greenthorn Crescent, Marl Hill Crescent and Grizedale Crescent, on the grass border of Brockholes wood.
He said: “The grass has been totally burnt off.
“We’ve no idea what possible pollution is in the ground now from all the stuff that’s been burnt, so we’ll probably have to get our parks team to dig out an area and re-turf it.
“One of the biggest problems we have is the type of materials the residents have been bringing out to throw on the bonfire.
“Foam-based furniture - when that sets on fire there are all sorts of chemicals released.”
Mr Cookson said other materials included glass fibre, roof felting, vinyl flooring, aerosols and a window containing broken glass.
He said the council worked with police and fire crews to remove unauthorised bonfires before Bonfire Night, but said in that area they would appear “virtually overnight”.
He said: “Things like palettes, clean wood, branches, paper can be burnt safely, but once you start putting household furniture and other things it gets dangerous.”
Staff from the council’s enforcement and cleansing departments, and also parks and street scene teams, will all be called to clear the residual waste and assess the damage to the ground.
Mr Cookson said: “It’s wanton disregard for the amenities of the area.
“This is part and parcel of the nature reserve and it’s there for the enjoyment of all the community. This desire to celebrate Bonfire Night goes beyond this community event and goes into what can only be described as criminal disposal of hazardous waste.
“It’s fly tipping on a massive scale, which is dressed up in the pursuit of what’s deemed to be a community activity.
“The council has got no desire to stop the community enjoying events like this, but they’ve got to understand the damage they can cause.” Mr Cookson said council bosses had started to assess the damage, but said teams were already stretched.
He said: “The biggest problem we have at this time of year is all our resources are fully committed to cleaning the leaves off the road.
“So we are already stretched as it is with leaf fall and the problems residents cause with irresponsible disposal, and on top now we’ve got to deal with the aftermath of bonfires. “It’s going to put a significant strain on us.
“My job is to investigate to see if there’s any evidence remaining there to see if we can highlight the origin of this waste.
“It’s getting to a crazy situation where it’s just a free-for-all and the council is left to sort the damage out.”
Paul Gardner, a fire safety enforcement officer with Lancashire Fire and Rescue service, said unauthorised bonfires posed a threat to both the public and firefighters.
He said: “If it’s not organised, we’re not sure what’s been put onto that bonfire.
“There could be cylinders, aerosols, different kinds of plastics, there’s lots of things that could be a danger to firefighters or even the public.”
Coun Robert Boswell, Cabinet member for community and environment, said: “There are a number of organised bonfires around the city, which are well attended and we would encourage people to visit these to experience Bonfire Night safely.
“Public safety is our number one concern. Burning these dangerous materials and dispersing toxic fumes in this way could pose a health hazard to the community.”