Wiltshire’s chief fire officer has thanked the Trowbridge firefighters who called off a planned strike to tackle a major blaze at the EJ Shanley scrapyard.

Crews were called to the Shails Lane site at 9.39am after a large fire started, with smoke visible across town and as far as Westbury and Bradford on Avon.

The full-time crew of Trowbridge Fire Station were due to strike today, as part of a nationwide five-hour protest over proposed pension changes, but agreed to suspend their industrial action to help their colleagues from neighbouring towns.

Simon Routh-Jones, chief fire officer for the county, was at the scene.

He said: “The call came in just before 10am so we had all appliances that are normally available, and we have worked out an agreement that the striking firefighters will remain on site.

“This is their community and they want to remain part of the attack on the fire, and I am really grateful for their professionalism.”

Six fire engines are currently working at the scene, from Trowbridge, Westbury, Melksham and Bradford on Avon, along with a water carrier from Ramsbury. Approximately 40 firefighters are involved.

The police have closed Shails Lane and Seymour Road, and have set up a cordon around the site. An ambulance crew is also at the scene.

Mr Routh-Jones said: “We currently have no idea as to the cause, and we are working with the owner.

“They had personnel here on-site but there have been no injuries, the paramedics are here purely for firefighter safety and to ensure no one gets hurt.

“I came because of the pending shortage due to the industrial action.

“I would anticipate the fire will burn well into the rest of the day, and I would imagine we would be having a presence here for the next few days working with the site to put it out.

“We didn’t need to evacuate at all, we are really fortunate with the weather conditions; there is no wind, so the smoke is going directly up.

“I want to extend our thanks to all the crews, particularly those who are being required to take industrial action, and set up a deal to make sure it was under control.”

There was also praise from Wiltshire Police for staff at nearby Sainsbury's who supplied drinking water to the fire crews as they battled the fire in today's heat.

Many Seymour Road residents reacted with shock to the thick plume of smoke rising from the site.

Neighbour Cameron Kemp said: “I woke up this morning and saw the smoke at about 10am. It was a lot blacker than it is now, but not as much of it.

“I first thought it was either the Twelve Bells pub or a house as it was quite close to where I live, but it had to have been something quite bigger.”