Firefighters have worked through the night battling a major fire at a recycling plant which sent thick black smoke across the town.

The blaze started shortly before 6pm yesterday evening, in the middle of the last night of the firefighters strike over pay and pensions.

A 1,000 tonne pile of household rubbish caught fire at Averies Recycling near Greenbridge.

As the smoke which could be seen from as far away as Devizes blew across into Walcot, standby crews from Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade and Marlborough attended the scene.

When the FBU strike action ended at 7pm as originally intended, they were joined by crews from Stratton as it quickly became apparent the fire was not going to be quickly contained.

No one was hurt in the incident but paramedics were in attendance for the safety of the firefighters as the heat of the day made the blaze harder to tackle.

The police were also at the scene to cordon the site off and to keep people away as the smoke was at ground level.

Fire crews spent the night dousing the fire in water but are expecting to be there until the middle of the week.

The pile of waste included wood, plastic and rubber. A skip lorry and pieces of machinery were also caught up in the blaze.

Acting Inspector Barry Reed, from Wiltshire Police, said: “We have a large fire which the fire brigade are dealing with from a number of different angles, but due to the nature of the event, it is being considered a major incident and we are expecting to be here for several days. 

“At this stage, we haven’t even started looking at the cause, we are just dealing with the incident. We’re not ruling anything out or in.”
Averies Recycling, owned by Lee Averies, deals with large amounts of general waste and is located next to a number of other yards, including one which houses a large quantity of tyres.

As a result, police were preparing to empty the yard of the tyres in case the fire spread to prevent a major environmental incident.

A warning was also issued to the residents of Walcot to take extra care due to the high level of smoke.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue warned: “Large amounts of black smoke are rising from the site and local people have been advised to keep doors and windows closed if they are concerned about the plume, especially if they have a pre-existing respiratory condition.”