Waste plant blaze shrouds Belfast in smoke
A fire at a recycling centre in west Belfast caused massive smoke clouds to billow across the whole city yesterday.
The blaze was reported just after 5pm at the premises of Wastebeater in the Kennedy industrial estate on the Blackstaff Road in Andersonstown.
No injuries were reported after 12 fire appliances and 75 personnel arrived to tackle the flames which were fuelled by a large pile of rubbish across 120 metres and up to two floors high.
Dense smoke drifted east across much of Belfast early yesterday evening. Speaking last night, Group Commander Keith Black of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said specialist high-reach vehicles and a dedicated control unit worked for hours to contain the fire.
He said: "NIFRS is working closely with the owners of the site 'Wastebeater Recycling' and the manager Mr Byrne was keen to stress all of his staff are accounted for and he regrets any inconvenience caused to the local community."
People living or working close to the fire were advised to keep doors and windows closed.A spokesman for Wastebeater said: "The NI Fire & Rescue service is onsite at our Wastebeater premises on Kennedy Way, attending to a major fire. All of our staff have vacated the site and are accounted for. Wastebeater management is co-operating fully with the NIFRS and other emergency services.
"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 tomorrow and their waste management service will not be impacted.
"We will endeavour to keep local people informed as the situation develops."
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said: "I was down at the site. It's a waste beater recycling centre, they handle commercial waste and things like cardboard boxes. I'd say the problem is that there's probably quite a lot of compacted material. That means it may last longer than a normal fire.
"There must be about seven or eight engines there now. There's no one injured, everyone got out ok but the heat from the flames was considerable and we don't know what the long term damage is.
"There's a lot of other smaller businesses like car mechanics and offices close to the site as well, hopefully there's no damage to them. A lot of people on the road thought the Kennedy shopping centre was on fire.
"The wind is thankfully blowing the smoke away from residential areas at the moment, if it goes the other way the smoke will go across to the Falls Road. Right now it's going towards the motorway, but far away enough not to cause damage. Hopefully they get control of it soon."