Northern Ireland

West Belfast: Firefighters dealing with blaze at recycling plant

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Media captionWest Belfast: Firefighters dealing with blaze at recycling plant

A fire at a recycling plant in west Belfast could take up to 24 hours to fully extinguish, Northern Ireland's Chief Fire Officer has said.

People living near the blaze, at the Wastebeater facility on Blackstaff Road off Kennedy Way, have been advised to keep their doors and windows closed.

The alarm was raised at 16:00 BST on Wednesday.

Twelve fire engines and 75 members of the fire brigade were at the scene on Wednesday night.

Image caption A fire is blazing at a west Belfast business
Image copyright Twitter/NIFRS

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said a large quantity of rubbish was on fire, creating a blaze stretching across 120m and reaching up to two floors in height.

Group Commander Keith Black said: "The fire is creating a high volume of smoke in and around the area and a plume across the M1 motorway.

"NIFRS would ask the public to avoid the area, both in vehicles and on foot in order to leave emergency access available at all times.

"People in commercial premises or housing in the vicinity of the fire should keep doors and windows closed to avoid the smoke."

Image caption Twelve fire appliances were at the scene on Wednesday night

BBC reporter Catherine Morrison said it was a major incident.

"Household waste has gone on fire this afternoon," she said.

Image caption The alarm was raised at about 16:00 BST

"There is a huge quantity of black smoke, which you can see right across the city."

She said onlookers and media had been moved back as the smoke has increased.

Image caption The fire is still burning off Kennedy Way

A spokesman for Wastebeater said: "We acknowledge the inconvenience caused to local people and we will do all that we can to minimise disruption over the hours and days ahead.

"We have contingency plans in place to deal with any major incident and those plans were activated immediately. We are contacting our customers and they can be assured that despite this setback, we will be open for business as usual tomorrow and their waste management service will not be impacted."

Image caption Rubbish at a recycling plant is on fire in west Belfast
Image copyright Colin Williams
Image caption An aerial view of the smoke from the west Belfast fire (Picture courtesy of Colin Williams)

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