FIREFIGHTERS have finally left the scene of a huge blaze at a metal recycling yard off Gipsy Lane.

Crews from across Swindon and Wiltshire were deployed to the site in the early hours of the morning and at its peak between 50 and 60 firefighters were dealing with the incident.

The roaring fire was visible high above the site from some distance away and the amount of smoke led to residents being asked to keep their windows and doors closed.

The incident, at EMR next to the BMW Mini plant, began in the early hours of Saturday morning at around 12.45am.

At 3am, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had sent eight pumps, two water carriers, an aerial appliance, an operations support unit and a command support unit to the scene.

Such was the scale of the deployment that crews from neighbouring Oxfordshire were sent to Swindon to provide cover in the event of other incidents. 

Firefighters were still at the scene this morning but they said good progress had been made through the night.

Crews were expected to remain on site throughout the day as work continues to ensure any remaining pockets of fire don't spread to neighbouring piles of metal.

Station Manager Gareth Evans, on site as Incident Commander, said: "Crews arrived here between 12.45 and 1.15am, about 50 to 60 firefighters at one point.

"On arrival they found a rapidly developing fire. 

"It was quite an intense fire in a pile of metal here for recycling. It would have been burning at about 1000 degrees at the hottest point.

"There was also rather a concerning smoke plume developing so the local authority were informed.

"We had seven fire engines, two water carriers, an aerial ladder platform, a control unit from Devizes and a cadre of officers in attendance."

Station Manager Evans said that the main bulk of resources began to withdraw from the site at around 6am but that the fire service would probably maintain a presence for most of the day to ensure all further risk was contained.

The cause has not yet been determined, fire investigators will work with officers from Wiltshire Police and the EMR team to understand how the fire started. 

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Picture: Swindon Heritage

EMR staff were on site assisting the fire crews and Station Manager Evans praised the employees for their co-operation and for their quick attendance at the site over this bank holiday weekend. 

He stressed this was a clean operating recycling yard and that the processes in place on site made tackling the fire easier than in some other scrapyard fires in recent years that took hold in less well run establishments. 

EMR's Communications Director, Gareth Williams, said: "We can confirm that a fire started at our Swindon depot at approximately 12:45 am on Saturday, April 15. 

"Our on-site teams immediately implemented our emergency procedure which included notifying the fire service, who reacted quickly and professionally.

"The cause of the fire is yet unknown and we are working with the fire service and other bodies to understand the root cause. 

"While we investigate the cause, we would like to apologise to the local community and businesses for the inconvenience this incident may have caused and would like to reassure them that we take our environmental, health and safety responsibilities very seriously."

Residents in the Gipsy Lane are still being asked to keep their windows and doors closed to avoid due to the smoke that is still coming from the site.

Fire crews said those with existing respiratory problems should take extra precautions but stressed there was no risk to anyone inside their homes.