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Fire at Jayplas depot engulfing 100,000 tonnes of plastic and paper

A fire involving an estimated 100,000 tonnes of plastic and paper recycling material is being tackled at a West Midlands depot run by J & A Young (Leicester) Ltd, one of the industry’s biggest operators.

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said it was the largest blaze seen in the region and more than 200 firefighters were at the Jayplas depot in Dartmouth Road, Smethwick.

The fire is spread over 300 metres squared, is being fought with 45 pumps, and the smoke plume has reached more than 180 metres.

The fire started at 11.10pm on 30 June. WMRF said it quickly escalated and “stretched us to the limit”. It said it is discussing “agressive tactics to control the fire”, including using diggers from Jayplas to dig out materials.

The fire service said 10 firefighters had been injured attending to the blaze. Of these, “eight were treated on site for heat-related injuries and two were taken to hospital, one with an eye injury and one with an ankle injury,” said a WMFS spokesperson.

WMFS (@WestMidsFire) tweeted: “Major fire at Smethwick caused by a chinese lantern - make sure you use them safely.” In a live broadcast from the site a firefighter confirmed: “Our forensics people have identified the cause… this was caused by a Chinese lantern.”

Although the incident is on an industrial estate, people living nearby were being advised to keep windows closed. The local primary school, Galton Valley, has been closed.

“Smethwick Fire Control have now taken over 400 999 calls to the fire in Dartmouth Road”, WMFS tweeted.

Area commander Steve Vincent said: “We will have major congestion in this area because we will be fighting this fire for the next few days.

“This is the largest fire that we’ve had in the West Midlands. It is a major fire and we’ve got support from surrounding fire brigades to help us deal with this.”

WMFS said: “We are very conscious this is yet another waste site fire, of which we have had 15 so far this year in the West Midlands.”

MRW reported that the rise in the number of fires at waste sites in recent years reversed in 2012 according to Environment Agency figures. However, industry sources have raised concerns over stockpiling as a result of China’s Green Fence policy, which came into force in February.

Phillip Ward, former director at Wrap tweeted:

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