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Leeds fire crews tackle scrapyard inferno UPDATED

Firefighters used an upturned skip to try to contain a ferocious chemical blaze in Leeds which sent a toxic cloud across part of the city.

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But the blaze spread, lighting up the sky with an orange glow which could be seen for miles.

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The blaze at scrap metal firm Metal Interests Northern in Stanningley in west Leeds involved aluminium contaminated with magnesium – a highly inflammable material which is difficult to control using normal firefighting methods.

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The blaze started just before 6pm on Tuesday in a single large bag of aluminium at the firm's yard in Arthur Street. The bag was about the size of those used by builders' merchants for sand.

"There were 15 or 16 bags," said Stanningley fire station watch manager John Needham. "We got most of them out of the risk area. We turned a skip upside down to put a top on it but by then it had spread to another bag. Four or five bags caught fire.

"Magnesium is very volatile. You can't put water on it. Putting water on it makes it even worse."

Other than preventing the fire from spreading further, firefighters had to leave the blazing material to burn itself out.

Police evacuated 10 homes in Arthur Street and Vickers Place because of toxic fumes from the fire. Some residents were put up in a hotel for the night. Others stayed with friends or relatives.

One of those evacuated was Darrell Kay, 35, and his three children.

Mr Kay, of Hillside Mount, told the YEP: "There are plumes of smoke and the sky is bright orange.

"We've been asked to leave the house and we're going to stay with my mum in Bramley.

"It's very scary, I'm worried that it will spread and our house might catch fire."

Andrew Bennett from nearby Bennett's Fisheries said many local residents had gone to view the fire.

He said: "The sky is like something out of War of the Worlds – the whole sky is lit up and flashing orange.

"Everyone is talking about it and going to have a look at it. You can see if from across the area."

Another eye witness said: "The fire itself doesn't look that huge but whatever is actually burning is really lighting up the sky.

"I saw it from my window in Farsley and came to look."

Police sealed off roads around the site.

The magnesium burned fiercely throughout the night and the fire lit up the sky with an orange hue.

Two fire appliances and crews remained at the site overnight. One was

withdrawn at dawn.

"At 8 am the fire was still glowing red-hot, but the majority of it had burned off," said watch manager Needham.

 
 
 

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