Smurfit Kappa fire: Crews tackle paper mill blaze

The fire at the paper mill may not be put out for more than 24 hours

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Tens of thousands of tonnes of cardboard is on fire at a paper mill in Birmingham.

Fourteen fire crews remain at the Smurfit Kappa plant, a mill for recycled packaging, in Nechells.

More than 65 firefighters are tackling the blaze in Mount Street, which broke out at about 22:00 BST on Wednesday, and 100 were at the scene overnight.

The fire service said no-one had been injured and the fire was not thought to be suspicious.

Crews, who are expecting the fire to burn for several days said it was now confined to a seven-acre area at the site, near the M6 motorway.

West Midlands Fire Service said a potentially dangerous situation was averted when a train carrying aviation fuel, due to pass the site at about 05:00 BST, was stopped eight miles away by Network Rail.

Following a safety assessment the train was allowed to continue 45 minutes later.

'Fanning fire'

Nigel Sowden, from the fire service, said they had scaled down the number of appliances at the paper mill and were concentrating on "reducing the amount of smoke and ash".

Mr Sowden said: "We got here very quickly.

At the scene

Well over 12 hours after the blaze began and there are still large plumes of smoke coming from the site.

A number of firefighters are working hard to put out the fire and the service has repeated its advice to residents to keep doors and windows closed.

Paper mill employees who turned up for work have been turned away today.

"There were 20 fire engines at its height and we managed to surround the site and protect the fire going off site.

"We did have an issue with the high winds fanning this fire and driving embers off the site so we did have a number of fire engines in the local community extinguishing small pockets of fire."

Mr Sowden said they now hoped to get mechanical diggers on site to help put out the fire.

A police helicopter was used to assist firefighters and a cordon remains in place around the industrial and residential area.

The A47 Heartlands Parkway was closed in both directions between the B4114 Saltley Viaduct/Mainstream Way and B4137 Cuckoo Road.

West Midlands Police said it had been monitoring the fire due to its proximity to the M6, but reported no smoke-related problems on the motorway.

'No explosion'

Smurfit Kappa released a statement in conjunction with the fire service that said: "At approximately 10pm last night a fire started in the paper yard and rapidly spread to the remaining raw material stock.

"Emergency services were called and are co-ordinating a combined operation to bring the situation under control.

Fire at Smurfit Kappa plant West Midlands Fire Service said it had contained the fire

"No one has been injured and we are co-operating fully with the emergency services on site."

Carl Mcguire, manager of M&M Steel Stock on nearby Trevor Street, said the fire had prevented him from accessing the company's offices.

He said: "Obviously we're faced with the situation now where we've had to tell all the lads to go home.

"We've got customers expecting deliveries today which unfortunately are not going to happen."

Nearby resident Lewis Casey said the flames were "about 30 ft high" at the height of the fire.

Mr Casey said: "There was no explosion. It's quite a noisy factory at night so I don't think you could have noticed the difference.

"When I was watching there was only one fire engine at the scene.

"That's what woke me up and as soon as I'd come downstairs there were 10 or 11 of them."

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