As reported widely in the local and national press, a devastating fire broke out at the Medina Village industrial estate in Cowes on Monday, 25th January. The multi-agency response to the blaze was led by Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue, along with other emergency services from the mainland.
Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) witnessed the fire start at approximately 1230 and were one of many who alerted the emergency services. The fire started at a small car mechanics workshop within the Medina Village industrial complex on land adjacent to the harbour.
Photo courtesy of Hamo Thornycroft / www.yacht-photos.co.uk
The prevailing southwesterly wind blew thick, acrid smoke up and across the River Medina; at times the East Cowes Red Funnel terminal was completely enveloped in smoke. After consultation with Red Funnel and the IW Fire and Rescue Service, the vehicle ferry service was suspended. The Cowes floating bridge was also suspended on police advice as a result of the fire.
As a further precaution, CHC shut the nearby marine fuel berth and advised vessels not to transit the area of the Chain Ferry due to the amount of potentially harmful smoke and danger from fall out of debris from the fire. CHC patrol RIBs were positioned to the north and south of the incident on the River Medina to monitor and control vessels approaching the area.
Views from the Harbour Office: Smoke from the Medina Village fire blows down the river and across the harbour
Red Funnel’s vehicle ferry Red Osprey, which had departed Southampton at midday, eventually berthed at approximately 1550 by which time the fire had been brought under control and smoke levels had dissipated. Thankfully, no pollution was reported in the harbour and the river returned to normal operation from 1600. However, IW Fire and Rescue crews remained on site damping down and managing hot spots.
By Tuesday afternoon, an investigation was underway to determine the exact cause of the fire, which destroyed a number of businesses on the site, and a substantial clean up operation is now needed to make the site safe.
This incident has been a terrible blow for many with livelihoods at Medina Village, but there is hope rising up from the ashes as Cowes pulls together with numerous offers of help coming in for those affected.