Recycling unit fire in St Erth needs 'babysitting' on fourth day

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Media captionCrews battled the blaze at the recycling unit in St Erth

A fire that broke out at a recycling unit needs "babysitting" through its fourth day, firefighters have said.

The blaze at St Erth, near Hayle, Cornwall, has been scaled back significantly after it started at about 20:15 BST on Monday, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said.

Fire station manager David Carlisle said it had been a significant incident due to the "severity of the fire".

No one was injured but the yard owners' turtle was killed in the fire.

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"There is still some smoke coming from this and we're in the stages of breaking apart the mounds of tyres and damping them down with copious amounts of water," Mr Carlisle said.

He added this would ensure there were "no further reignition" after ruptured fuel tanks caused the fire to spread, with another bursting on Wednesday morning.

He said while there was "very little life risk", it was likely to take at least another day "to finally extinguish the fire" and an investigation into the cause was "a few days off".

Owners Kathy and Mark Bailey said usual safety checks were completed the night the fire started.

Image copyright Fowey Fire Station
Image caption Firefighters said they were 'babysitting' the fire on its fourth day
Image copyright Tolvaddon Station
Image caption Crews have been working at the scene with aerial ladder platforms since the early hours of Wednesday

"We are devastated for our employees, who have worked so loyally for us for over 12 years, and devastated to have lost not only our livelihood but many personal effects," they said on their Facebook page.

They said these included "our daughter's dear little turtle 'Alfie' who had become a loved company mascot", as well as items that once belonged to Ms Bailey's late parents, diaries dating back to 1884, photo albums spanning 90 years and a vintage car.

The pair thanked the emergency services and sent their thoughts to the residents of St Erth who "bore the brunt of the smoke".

Fran, a resident who lives in St Erth, said her house was "full of awful fumes".

Image copyright Wadebridge CFRS
Image caption The fire is an "ongoing incident", firefighters have said

"I had the most dreadful headache and I'm asthmatic and it's just been really horrible", she said.

Public Health England said people living near to the fire were not likely to suffer any long-term health effects, but residents with asthma and chronic respiratory problems should stay indoors.

There have been no reports of water pollution but soil samples from areas affected by firewater run-off would be collected for inspection, the Environment Agency said.

Great Western Railway said St Erth station had opened on Thursday but the St Ives branch line was still disrupted.

Image copyright Kathy Bailey
Image caption Alfie the turtle died in the fire

Harry Hodgson, who was on a train which pulled into St Erth station on Monday, said the "huge black smog" could be seen from a mile away.

"It just erupted and basically took a huge building out within minutes and all of a sudden it was just an uncontrollable inferno, a massive blaze", he said.

Mr Hodgson said "the general mood was excitement" because no one had been injured and people were "enjoying the power and the beauty of the fire".

People living in the area have been advised to close windows and remain indoors owing to the large plumes of thick, black smoke.

Image copyright Matt Graham
Image caption St Erth station has been closed due to the fire
Image copyright Paul Stowe
Image caption A diesel and oil tank was caught up in the fire at the recycling centre
Image copyright Sean Ellis
Image caption The blaze appeared to be centred on a stock of vehicle tyres
Image copyright Ellie Angove
Image caption The smoke could be seen for miles as the sun set

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