Firefighter tells of Portsmouth blaze drama

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A BRAVE firefighter has spoken of the part he played in the dramatic fight against the huge blaze that ripped through a scrap metal depot.

Neil Lane was one of the first on scene at European Metal Recycling Ltd in Dundas Spur, Portsmouth.

The fire rages at European Metal Recycling in Portsmouth''Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

The fire rages at European Metal Recycling in Portsmouth''Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Joined by around 50 other firefighters, the 42-year-old helped to pump up to 15,000 litres a minute of water on the burning 500-tonne pile of crushed cars and metal.

The sound of mini-explosions pierced the sky as vehicle parts went up in flames. Residents posted pictures and videos online of the fire, which could be seen for miles around.

Mr Lane, of Cosham fire station’s Green Watch, said: ‘The heat was tremendous.

‘There was a massive pile of steel going up. It was like a big bonfire.

‘We could see it was a large incident and with something like that you have to be more aware.

‘You need to have your wits about you because it’s a very dangerous environment.’

Mr Lane paid tribute to the EMR workers who used cranes to shift metal.

‘The guys there did a great job – without them the fire would burn for weeks,’ he said.

The blaze created a plume of smoke hundreds of feet high, with its core reaching a temperature of more than 1,000C (1,832F).

Police taped off the entrances to the site via Dundas Spur, and the road was reopened last night.

Crews spent most of the day putting out the fire.

Incident commander Alan Murray praised the team.

‘Firefighters have been doing a great job under arduous conditions,’ he said.

‘Safety is always the priority in incidents like these.’

The cause of the fire is unknown, but is not thought to be suspicious.

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Health experts have made assurances that the smoke which billowed across the city skyline posed no threat to the public.

Public Health England were alerted to the blaze as it ripped through around 250 crushed cars and other bits of scrap metal at European Metal Recycling Ltd.

But advisors specialising in poisonous and chemical substances at the government agency were satisfied that the burning metal was not giving off anything harmful following talks with fire bosses.

Despite the assurance, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service yesterday advised residents to close the windows and doors to their properties to prevent smoke coming in and stop smells being picked up.

A spokeswoman for Public Health England said: ‘We were made aware of the fire, but we had no involvement with it.

‘Our poison and chemical people have been assured that there were no concerns on-site.

‘We have been kept up-to-date with everything that has happened.’

Video by Paul Clack