Firefighters and residents speak of district's two huge fires

The fire in Smallford on Sunday

The fire in Smallford on Sunday

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Firefighters and residents who watched as huge fires broke out in the district have told the Review what it was like at the scene.

Smoke clouds rose about the city on Sunday when two massive fires started.

Firefighters are still tackling the fire at a recycling centre in Potters Crouch.

Lucy Hunt, a student from Oaklands College, lives in nearby Claudian Place and saw the smoke from her window.

The 16-year-old said: "I have never seen anything like it before.

"If you didn’t know there was a fire you would think it was snowing because there was so many flakes and ash in the sky.

"Cars on the M1 were slowing down to look at the orange flames and glow."

Heavy traffic congestion has surrounded the city since the fire as smoke and embers from the blaze meant two busy roads had to be closed.

The A414 and the A4147 have now reopened, but the emergency services are monitoring the situation.

Helen Buckell, one of the firefighters from the St Albans station, said: "It is quite a big fire in its dimensions and we are dealing with large stacks of wood, so it is going to take a while to put out.

"Initially it was smoking and the wood was smouldering away but eventually the fire broke through it."

Fire crews were also called to another blaze at a horticultural nursery in Smallford on Sunday afternoon.

It took more than ten hours to put the fire out.

Trevor Ray, watch commander on white watch from St Albans, attended the scene and explained the difficulty of putting out the fire.

He said: "Our biggest problem was the supply of water used to put out the fire.

"Because it was such a big fire, we needed a big supply of water and the premises we were at made it very difficult to find a good pressure.

"Many of the plastic trays, I believe used to transport their goods, were extremely damaged because of the fire and I expect there has been a huge loss.

"Members of our crew had to wear breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze, because the scene was heavily toxic."

Thermal image cameras were also used to check for fire hot spots.

Resident Raymond Watson saw the smoke from his window and walked down to the site to find out what was going on.

He said: "I noticed a massive plume of smoke. It was about five or six houses high.

"When it first started it was really black. The fire was obviously going some. There was obviously a lot of material there going up.

"By the time I got to there the fire crews were there and they had started to get it under control. The smoke was a lot lighter."

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