Scrapyard blaze 'will burn for days'

FIREFIGHTERS last night warned a blaze that tore through tonnes of metal at a recycling plant will continue to burn for the next few days.

Laurence Cawley

FIREFIGHTERS last night warned a blaze that tore through tonnes of metal at a recycling plant will continue to burn for the next few days.

At the height of the fire, at the European Metal Recycling (EMR) near Newmarket, more than 50 firefighters from across Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were dispatched.

The blaze began shortly before 10pm on Wednesday but fire officers ended up working through the night fighting back flames using special equipment.

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Firefighters, who were drafted in from Newmarket, Soham, Burwell, Mildenhall, Swaffham Bulbeck and Ely, battled the inferno at the Snailwell Industrial Estate, in Fordham, by breaking up a 150m by 50m pile of burning wood, metal and rubber into smaller portions to help bring the flames under control.

Bruce Parcell, of Cambridgshire Fire and Rescue, said dousing the flames simply by shooting water it would not have worked.

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He said it was vital that the mass of materials was broken up so that smaller chunks of burning matter was dealt with individually.

“This was a very large fire comprising very large chunks of metal, wood and tyre,” he said.

Mr Parcell said the job of breaking up the burning material had been “exhausting” and thanked fire crews and workers at the recycling firm for their efforts.

Crews also used water curtains to prevent the blaze spreading further across the site.

Yesterday, noxious smells filled the air around the site of the blaze while lorries continued to enter and leave the business premises.

A thick plume of smoke billowed into the air and fire officers advised residents to take precautions by closing their doors and windows due to the metal pile containing many other elements as it was in pre- separation stage and potentially quite toxic.

Snailwell Parish Council chairman Gaynor Ryan said: “We could not smell any smoke and it has not affected Snailwell because the wind was blowing in the direction of Fordham.”

Nobody was available for comment yesterday from EMR, which is one of the world's largest recycling firms, recycling scrap metal and exporting it, with major markets in China and Japan. The company employs 1,400 people in 65 locations across the world.

Experts believe the fire will continue to smoulder for the next couple of days and an investigation into the cause of the incident will be carried out once the flames are fully out.

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