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Northern Ireland town engulfed in stench - anger as fire burns for four days

Close windows and doors, Fire Service warns over Newtownards blaze

By Jonny Bell

A Northern Ireland town has been left with a thick stench hanging over it as a fire burned on for its fourth day.

The public have been warned to close their windows and doors as firefighters continue to tackle the blaze in Newtownards.

The fire erupted on a vacant piece of land at the Castlebawn site, on the Portaferry Road on Friday. A pile of rubble and materials which had been gathered together as part of a clear up had been set alight.

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong said the town had been left with a thick cloud of smoke hanging over it, "and it is stinking".

She said such was the smoke and smell she closed down her constituency office on Friday.

"Businesses have seen less people, the market stall holders on Saturday were not happy as it meant their goods smelled of the smoke and people weren't buying anything," she said.

"People have been saying that they are being forced out of their homes to go and live with family members because of it. But I really fear for those that are housebound or have breathing difficulties and can't go anywhere.

"My own office, which is some distance away was just full of smoke and stinking. On Friday we just couldn't stay open.

"It's a very thick heavy smoke and its quite white. And it stinks.

"It's ridiculous and the council only took notice of it today - presumably because they had so many complaints over the weekend.

"The Fire Service have been out and put foam over one part of it and I think they have deemed it not serious enough to concentrate on. But this can't continue."

On Monday evening diggers arrived on the site to take apart the rubble in the hope the fire would die out.

A Fire Service spokeswoman added: "Earlier today Firefighters extinguished one area of the fire.  We have been liaising with Environmental Health from Ards and North Down Borough Council and the site owners and are awaiting a digger to arrive onsite to separate the rubbish and rubble to enable us to continue with firefighting operations.

“There is a plume of smoke in the area.  As a precautionary measure those within the Court Street area and near to the Castlebawn site are being asked to close windows and doors at this time.”

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