A RETIRED homeowner has been left feeling blue - along with local moggies - after bags of ink powder "exploded" into the air during a fire in Clacton.

Witold Juckiewicz, 69, from Coppins Road, claims he has been unable to leave his home following the incident.

Firefighters were called to a blaze involving a boat and a shed off Coronation Road on Tuesday, January 29, at about 8.54pm.

Mr Juckiewicz, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with his wife Doula, said he was shocked to see firefighters spray water straight on to the bags, exploding blue powder into the air.

It left nearby homes, fences, patios and roofs covered in blue powder and has coated the feet of passing cats and dogs.

The retired building engineer said: “I was in bed and heard an explosion and we thought it was fireworks. We heard another one five minutes later – and then heard fire engines.

“I looked out and saw fire men coming up and spraying the bags with the hose straight away – they didn’t seem to check at all.

“It was a big bag of dye – and it exploded into the air. They all looked like smurfs – there was about 15 of them.


“I have stuck up for firemen all my life, but the mess they have created here is unbelievable. It has just been left.

“It’s all down the road – a cordon was in place to start with."

Mr Juckiewicz said the dye came from a printers in Colchester that went out of businesses a number of years ago.

He added: “I found out this substance doesn’t set alight, it just smoulders. You can’t put it out – it has to burn itself out.

“I can’t go out of the house and I've had environmental health in twice a day.

"My son was helping by trying to tidy it up, but he was told he’s not allowed to touch it.

“I’ve got 23 grandchildren and they can’t come to visit me at present.”

Mr Juckiewicz added the cause of the fire is unknown, but that it had also destroyed his son’s speedboat.

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “When fire crews arrived at the incident they reported that the boat and part of the shed was alight.

“There was also eight large sacks of blue ink powder next to shed which were also involved in the fire.

“Due to the presence of the ink powder, crews requested the attendance of the environment health.

“The powder was confirmed to be non-hazardous by scientific advisors, but due to its composition, it would continue to smoulder for some days.

“Firefighters dug a trench around the affected area of leaked powder and filled it with sand to protect the area.

“Fire crews also revisited the incident for the following few days to check it was still safe.

"The incident was left in the care of the owners and environment health.”

The fire was extinguished by 10pm.

A spokesman for Tendring Council said: “Following a report from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the council is undertaking investigations in relation to this incident.

“This involves seeking advice in relation to some of the key ingredients of the material to determine what further actions are required.

“Once this information has been received it should be possible to identify how to deal with the material which would include removing it from the site.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners, including the Environment Agency who are aware of this incident, and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.”