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Fire breaks out at recycling station

Workers evacuated when a fire broke out at the Masterton Recycling and Transfer Station on Thursday. PHOTOS/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

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Workers at the Masterton Recycling and Transfer Station were forced to evacuate after a fire began on Thursday morning.

Masterton Fire Station officer Garry Nielsen said two tankers, four firetrucks, and an aerial truck from Wellington were needed to put out the blaze.

“The fire started in a recycling bin and grew from there. It was involved when we got there and so we just needed to extinguish that. To ventilate it we needed to get up to the roof and let the smoke out,” Nielsen said.

“There’s been substantial damage done to some of the internal machinery inside the plant.”

The workers had evacuated by the time emergency services arrived, and no one was injured.

Although the cause of the fire was still unknown, Nielsen said it was not being treated as suspicious.

“It’ll be something internal to the working of the machinery, so we’re still determining that.”

Fire and Emergency Services received the call at about 8.45am, and were still on the scene in the afternoon. The fire was mostly extinguished by about 12.30.

A nearby resident said her husband had woken in the middle of the night when he heard three loud bangs coming from the direction of the recycling centre.

“It sounded like explosions … and now there’s a fire so I’m just wondering.”

Nielsen said emergency services had not received any reports of the noises, but that it was unlikely to be related.

“The fire started when they were there, so when they arrived at work there was no fire. The fire happened after they started up their machinery.”

This is the second fire at the recycling station this year, coming after a fire at the end of January.

“That was unrelated,” Nielsen said.

“That was a press fire in a different location, but it’s still the same products, plastic, it still has toxic smoke coming off it. We decontaminated and washed down our firefighters as they came out … to wash all the carcinogenic material off of them.”

The operations manager of the recycling centre declined to comment.

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