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30,000 tonnes of waste on fire in Sunderland

Public health warnings have been issued after fire broke out among 30,000 tonnes of waste in an abandoned facility in Sunderland.

The fire, which has burned for several days, started at the former waste management firm Alex Smiles site in the city’s Deptford area.

Alex Smiles entered liquidation in 2016, and a spokesperson for Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service said the site was understood to be owned by the former company’s pension fund. She said the fire’s cause could not yet be determined.

Assistant chief fire officer Alan Robson said: “This continues to be an extremely challenging fire for us to deal with, particularly as there is 30,000 tonnes of waste and the fire is deep-seated within the main building.”

Public Health England has told nearby residents to limit the time they spend out of doors, to avoid the smoke, and to avoid physical exertion if they do go outside.

Sunderland City Council said contractors had moved waste from the area nearest the the fire to safer areas on-site, and that firefighting had moved “from containing and cooling the fire to a more aggressive approach, which will see hot material pulled from the building and made safe”.

The council and the Environment Agency continue to monitor local air quality and water used for firefighting that runs off into the river Wear.

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