Wales

Swansea tyre factory fire may take 'days' to extinguish

  • 17 June 2011
  • From the section Wales

Firefighters say they are starting to bring a large blaze at a tyre storage factory under control, but it could be days before it is fully extinguished.

Fifty firefighters are tackling the incident at Fforestfach Industrial Estate near the former Mettoy site in Fforestfach, Swansea.

People living close to the estate have been told to keep their windows and doors closed.

It is thought thousands of tonnes of shredded tyres were inside the factory.

Pollutants in the smoke "have the potential to irritate eyes, nose and throat and cause an impact on health if inhaled", say emergency services.

"There is greater potential for health problems in people with existing chest and lung problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and cardiac problems including angina," said a police statement.

Air quality

Anyone with symptoms who is concerned is asked to try to avoid the affected area and contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 57 or their GP.

It is believed the blaze, which began at lunchtime on Thursday, could "burn for several days".

Police said Environment Agency Wales was working to protect a nearby stream and have deployed booms and other equipment to minimise any pollution. It is also monitoring air quality.

A number of roads in the area were closed overnight but some have now been reopened. However, some bus services are disrupted.

The fire caused traffic gridlock as several roads were closed.

Ystrad Road, Bruce Road, Kingsway and Queensway are still shut to traffic, but Carmarthen Road has reopened along with Middle Road. Diversions are in place.

Fforestfach Industrial Estate is closed and the park and ride service is suspended.

Police said the emergency services were helping assist some local businesses to gain temporary access to their premises, and were working to "restore vehicle access to the industrial estate as soon as possible and to enable vehicles to be removed from the park and ride service".

A serious incident room has been set up at Swansea central police station.

Swansea council said schools in the area were open as normal on Friday, except Cadle primary which has an inset day.

But head teachers were advised to keep windows and external doors closed.

Ch Insp Andy Kingdom, of South Wales Police, said: "Public safety is our main priority and things are going very well at the moment.

"It is too early to establish the cause of the fire at this stage, but there will be a full investigation with the fire service at the fire's conclusion.

"We are advising people to take sensible precautions. Please do not turn up to watch the fire, try to park away from the affected area, if you have to visit that part of Swansea and keep windows and doors shut."

Fire crews have been using two aerial ladders, a high volume pump and five appliances to fight the blaze.

Richard Fry, of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It's starting to come under control, but it's very deep-seated.

Image caption An aerial view of the Swansea factory fire

"The product is quite a number of feet thick in places and it's a very deep seat burning and very slow burning. It's a rubber product from reused vehicle tyres and it's the by-product of the process that was used to recycle these tyres.

"There's quite a few tonnes in there. We expect this to continue for a number of days yet."

Darren Morgan, who runs a neighbouring go-karting business, was one of the first on the scene.

He said there were thousands of tonnes of shredded tyres in the factory, piled about 10ft (3m) high.

"It was blazing by the time we got there minutes after the alarm was raised, and (the fire) spread very quickly," he said.

Katie Griffiths, of Let's Go Travel, a local bus company running school services, said services were delayed on Thursday after the fire started, but operations were due to be back to normal by mid afternoon on Friday.

However, bus firm First Group said some of its services were disrupted, and this was likely to continue over the weekend.

Road closures and traffic congestion are affecting the 15, 17, 110-112, 400, 404, X11/X12 and X13 buses, the company said.

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