A WAREHOUSE was engulfed in flames as firefighters battled to control a blaze on an industrial estate.
Flames shot through the roof of the huge building on River Lane, Saltney, as shocked workers looked on.
Tonnes of recycled waste went up, causing plumes of black, smoke visible for miles around.
Onlookers said the warehouse melted before their eyes yesterday morning.
Fire crews from across the region were called in to contain the situation at the site, thought to be owned by Lancashire Fuels 4u, after being called to the scene at 8.08am. It is unclear whether anyone was at the site when the incident occurred.
Workers from businesses nearby described how they could feel the heat coming from the burning warehouse, adding flames had spread through the building in a matter of minutes.
John Jones, 55, who works at Geotechnics, just metres from where the fire took hold on the Riverside Industrial Estate, said: “We saw black smoke coming out of the far end of the warehouse. Then flames were coming out of the roof and the side of it. Once it started it really took hold.
“It took about five minutes for the fire to spread from one end of the building to the other.
“It kept flaring up as the firefighters tried to dampen it down.”
Mr Jones said he initially thought the smoke he could see was something to do with a controlled burn, but all that changed when he heard fire engines.
At one point more than 20 firefighters were on the scene and water from the nearby River Dee was pumped to dampen the blaze down.
Natural Resources Wales said its biggest concern was water used by firefighters to battle to blaze was contaminated by burnt materials and may make its way back into the river system.
Two appliances from Deeside, two from Cheshire and one from Flint, along with the Ariel Ladder Platform from Wrexham, the High Volume Pump from Llandudno and the Incident Command Unit from Rhyl were in attendance at the height of the incident.
Crews were still at the scene at 4pm yesterday.
The cause of the blaze was unknown yesterday, a North Wales Fire and Rescue spokesman said.
Dave Powell for Natural Resources Wales, said: “Our biggest concern in incidents such as this is dealing with the water that’s used to fight the blaze.
“It picks up a lot of pollutants from the burning material and can cause a lot of damage if it gets into streams and rivers.
“At present the pollution appears to be contained and there is minimal impact on the River Dee and surrounding area.”
People who saw smoke at ground level were advised to stay indoors yesterday.
Jill Weir, of Alan Howard Hair and Beauty Wholesalers, which backs onto the warehouse, said: “The heat just hit you. When I came into work there were plumes of smoke coming out through gaps in the roof.
“But within half-an-hour what we saw was absolutely shocking.
“The whole place was just melting before our eyes.”
Saltney councillor Veronica Gay, saw the flames just after 9am.
She said: “When I came out, I could see the plumes of smoke coming out.
“The warehouse is absolutely gutted. You couldn’t miss it from the roundabout on River Lane.”
Amy-Beth Langford, 24, who also works at the Alan Howard Hair and Beauty unit praised firefighters, saying: “They did a really good job at getting the fire under control.”
No-one from Lancashire Fuels 4u was available for comment.
Public Health Wales is not aware of any reports of anyone experiencing ill effects from this fire. Anyone with respiratory symptoms who is concerned should contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or their GP.
See full story in the Chester Leader