A blaze which has destroyed two warehouses in rural Northumberland could be burning for up to 10 days, the Gazette has been told.
The fire at the former Swarland Brickworks site at Thrunton took hold at around 9.45am on Tuesday.
Fire crews from across the county were called to the scene and battled for more than 12 hours to get it under control.
By yesterday morning, the flames had died down, but the site was still burning.
There was concern at first about the involvement of acetylene cylinders and contamination of a nearby lake.
But 40 firefighters were involved in putting jets in place to cover the acetylene risk and protect surrounding buildings.
And drains were bunded to contain the water run-off and prevent contamination with the lake and nearby rivers.
Chris Blythe, who owns the site, said: “We are absolutely devastated that the buildings have gone. The sheds were tenanted out to a carpet recycling firm so we have lost the buildings, but they have lost all the materials that were in there.
“The fire service and Environment Agency came to the conclusion that it would be best just to let it burn.
“On Tuesday, they said it could take two to three days, now it is more like a week to 10 days. It all depends on weather conditions and various different things.”
Residents of homes near the site were evacuated on Tuesday morning, as a precaution, because of the potential toxicity of the smoke coming from the fire.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said yesterday: “We were very lucky that the wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the houses.
“It would have been horrendous otherwise. The homes would have been filled with thick black smoke.
“At around 10am the fire brigade came and told us that we needed to gather at one house just in case.
“I ended up going out for the day and then when I came back, at about 5pm, we were told we could go back inside.
“We heard the fire brigade leave at about 12.30 this morning. We have just been extremely lucky.”
The plume of smoke from the fire was seen as far away as Ashington and it dominated the skyline along Alnwick Moor. Closer to the site, there was a strong smell of burning plastic in the air.
Police were also called to the scene on Tuesday morning as there was a concern that the smoke was causing problems for motorists on the A697. They also stopped people from getting to the site for safety reasons.
Two crews from Alnwick as well as those from Rothbury, West Hartford and Wooler tackled the blaze alongside a high-volume pump from Pegswood.
Once the team had control over the incident, one crew remained at the location on a watching brief throughout the night and they will maintain a presence until it is safe to hand back to the owners.
The site has been cordoned off until the fire is completely extinguished.
No injuries were caused as a result of the blaze.