Witney fire: Asbestos warning after scrap yard blaze

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Media caption,

Residents were told to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed

Residents have been warned to stay indoors after it emerged a breakers' yard that went up in flames may have contained asbestos.

About 60 firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue tackled the blaze at T&B Motors in Witney, on Wednesday.

West Oxfordshire District Council has warned people to "avoid unnecessary outdoor activity" during the clean-up operation.

However, a spokesman said there was "no significant public health risk".

Plumes of black smoke were visible over the town for hours during the blaze.

Image source, ShootItYourself
Image caption,
Ten fire engines were sent to the scene of the blaze

Thames Valley Police said the cause of the fire was not thought to be suspicious.

The force thanked fire crews and the "fabulous" residents of the town for their help during the blaze.

The West End area of the town remains closed to through traffic, but people have been allowed to return to their homes.

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The extent of the contamination is currently being investigated, with part of Farmers Close cordoned off.

A council spokesman said: "Nearby residents are being advised that the building potentially contained some asbestos cement roof tiles and an appropriate cleanup of the site and vicinity is taking place."

As long as "appropriate cleanup procedures" were followed there was "no significant public health risk" but airborne asbestos fibres "may pose a risk to those inhaling them", the spokesman added.

Media caption,

Plumes of "thick, black, acrid" smoke were visible over Witney

The council's advice to residents includes:

  • Not letting children play outside, and avoiding unnecessary outdoor activity
  • Closing all external doors and windows
  • Refraining from putting washing out or going in gardens
  • Not touching any of the debris from the fire

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