IN PICTURES and VIDEO: 80 firefighters battle huge Oldbury recycling plant blaze
Up to 80 firefighters have battled for hours with a massive overnight blaze at a Black Country recycling plant.
Smoke was billowing 100 feet into the air and flames were ravaging a huge warehouse - around 200 metres long and about 30 metres high - when the first crews reached the scene in Trinity Street, Oldbury around 10.15pm last night.
The building was packed with mountains of rubbish - some in bails - that ranged from paper, through rubber, plastic and cardboard to metal with more refuse piled up outside.
The warehouse and about 200 tons of refuse was well alight with up to 70 per cent of the roof affected by the fire when the crews arrived.
The pair were quickly removed from the scene as the battle began to control the blaze and stop it spreading to a second, significantly larger warehouse - also filled with refuse - just feet away on the site run by Weir Waste one of the largest independently owned commercial recycling and wast management companies in the West Midlands.
Within minutes the call out was increased to ten fire trucks and two hydraulic platforms together with a mobile command centre as the firefighters successfully saved the second warehouse from the inferno.
Crews from throughout the Black Country and as far afield Aldridge and Aston - each spent up to eight hours at the scene before being relived by colleagues who continued damping down operations to ensure the fire did not restart among the piles of rubbish. The work is expected to last for many hours.
Chris Wood, Station Commander, said: "We have currently got 25 fire fighters on the scene and five pumping appliances.
"We are working in partnership with the on site company Weir, the Canal River Trust and the Environment Agency."
"We have come up with an environmental and water management plan.
"We are recycling water and using the plant on site to move the water to an area where we can extinguish the blaze with water using our own hoses .
"Then we can move it to a place of ultimate safety and extinguish the fire.
"The fire is now confined to approximately 100 tonnes of burning waste.
"Our crews were first on the scene at 10.15pm last night. I don't know the exact cause of the fire but it has been confirmed by our fire investigation team that the fires accidental.
"I would suggest crews will remain here for the remainder if the day."
Danny Weir, owner of the recycling centre said: "The fire started in the reception area of our site.
"It was spotted on CCTV by our security guard who was working on the evening who then called the fire brigade.
"The fire brigade was on site before any of us.
"I would like to thank the fire brigade. "They have been absolutely fantastic and efficient.
"We have got our own delude system, which we have to have as part of our own permit requirements, that kicked in.
"That held the fire until the fire service came in and took over.
"At the minute we are still operating and going to collect waste.
"We have contingency plans to use other facilities.
"No operational plants that we can see have been damaged, just the roof of the building."
Staff working at the company have been relocated to its head office in Birmingham as a precautionary measure.
The electricity has been turned off at the site too.
He said: "I was watching the CCTV with fire investigation team last night and the power went off.
"The fire service had asked Western Power Distribution to turn off the power.
"We will now need our own guys to come down to turn the power back on as it's a private network."
Firefighter Daryl Humpage from Oldbury fire station explained: "The first call came at around 10.15pm and reported smoke issuing from the plant. The plume was 100 feet in the air and the first warehouse was well alight when we arrived. That fire was so well developed that we did not have a chance of doing anything with that building.
"Our main task was to stop it spreading to the other warehouse that was only around 15 feet away. We put up a curtain of water to prevent the hot gases and embers reaching the larger warehouse and cooled it down. If that had gone up as well the fire could have been ten times as bad."
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