FIREFIGHTERS and staff tackled a scrapyard fire in North Dorset.

Around 40 firefighters worked with staff at the scrapyard at Okeford Fitzpaine to tackle the blaze in large pile of mixed recyclable material, including metal and plastics.

Crews were called just after 11am yesterday to Wessex Metals LTD outside the North Dorset village.

A huge smoke plume could be seen for miles around and residents of three properties in the area were advised to keep their windows closed. Firefighters said this was more as a precaution rather than because there was a hazard to the public.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental.

Group manager Andy Fox from Dorchester fire station said that initially two crews from Sturminster Newton were tasked to the fire, before further fire engines were requested. In total six fire engines and three support units went to the scene, including a water carrier.

He said:"The crews have worked very hard in conjunction with the staff on site to contain and control the fire."

He added:"All the crews that attended are part time retained staff because of the rural location. They did a really good job."

The fire was located in a huge pile of mixed recycleables and fire crews worked together with staff to tackle the blaze.

Staff used a lifting machine to pick up parts of the pile and move it, while fire crews doused each bit with water to get to the heart of the blaze.

Once the pile was flattened out, crews put on a foam blanket to extinguish the blaze.

Mr Fox praised the scrapyard staff, he said: "The staff did a good job helping out and assisting with the moving of material."

He added: "It would have made firefighting a lot more difficult if they hadn't been moving material."

Crews are now scaling back operations.

A brigade spokesman said: "At the height of the incident there were six fire engines involved and specialist vehicles, a total of 40 firefighters.

"They were using a water carrier, hose reels and compressed air foam to extinguish the fire which afdected metals, plastics and rubbish at the scrapyard. The area affected measured 20 metres by 30 metres.

"The stop message, which means the fire is under control, was received at 1.30pm.

"As of about 2.30pm the incident was being scaled down and crews would be finished at the scene in an hour."

No-one has been injured.

The spokesman said crews from Sturminster Newton, Blandford, Sherborne, Shaftesbury and Gillingham were involved.