The cost to taxpayers for sending firefighters to the worst fire in Huddersfield for a generation may never be known.
Officers from Huddersfield fire station and a host of other crews have spent hundreds of hours at the former Hunter Group waste site since it went up in flames
Two pumps from Huddersfield and crews from Rastrick, Meltham and Slaithwaite spent a total of 104 hours at the tip on the day of the blaze, August 18 last year.
Once the main fire was out crews from Huddersfield and Dewsbury continued to visit multiple times a day until last month, racking up a total to date of about 900 hours of work over more than seven months.
But despite the huge burden to the taxpayer, a spokesperson for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed that it will not be making any claim against Sam Hunter to recoup the cost.
“The incident has not caused financial difficulties as those crews who attended were at work anyway.
“However, the ‘cost’ of this incident has been in the disruption to our work to train and develop our firefighters and to engage with the community to promote our general safety messages.”
The 2004 Fire and Rescue Services Act allows fire authorities to re-claim the costs for certain types of incidents.
So-called “special service calls”, such as releasing people trapped in lifts, non-fire ‘Hazmat’ incidents, and some animal rescues, all attract fees from a few hundred pounds to more than £2,000.
But months of attending the site at Queens Mill Road for damping down and safety work have been classed as ordinary attendance and the costs have not been recorded, a spokesperson said.
Kirklees Council is considering legal action against former operators of the site, Mr Hunter and his mother Jacinta Hunter.
The legal steps for reclaiming the cost of cleaning up the environmental disaster, including clearing more than 9,000 tonnes of abandoned waste, are currently underway.
The council was forced to drop its initial case against the pair as they had sold the site but it has stated it is working with the Environment Agency to pursue “financial reimbursement or a custodial sentence.”
A settlement against Gerald McCullagh, the leaseholder of the part of the land used by Hunter Group, has been agreed behind closed doors.