IN PICTURES: Black smoke over Harlow after sausage factory fire sees 70 firefighters tackle blaze


THICK black smoke billowed over Harlow this morning after a fire broke out in a sausage factory.

The blaze was tackled by 70 firefighters from Essex and Hertfordshire after it broke out at Riverway Foods on River Way in Harlow at around 5:20am.

River Way was closed to traffic by Essex Police for much of the morning.

Ten fire engines were involved in tackling the flames before it was brought under control.

Thick smoke could be seen across the town and the fire service warned people to stay indoors and keep windows shut.

Essex Fire service said the building was 95 percent alight and 100 percent smoke-logged.

Incident commander Scott Meekings said: "When we turned up we were faced with quite a ferocious fire that had smoke and flames billowing out of the building.

"Fire crews rapidly responded by increasing the resources we deployed to this incident but because of the nature of the contents within the building - a lot of cardboard, wooden pallets and plastics - the fire got hold very quickly."

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.,

Harlow MP Robert Halfon said: “It is so sad to see the smoke across the sky in Harlow this morning. It is upsetting to see such a successful Harlow businesses impacted in this way.

“I pay sincere thanks to the Police and Fire Service who have worked so hard this morning to deal with the fire swiftly. “I will do everything I can to support the business that has been so devastatingly affected.

“I encourage all residents to follow the guidance being issued by the Council and Fire Service, to keep windows and doors closed to avoid the smoke.”

By 10.15pm just two fire engines were left on site.

An Essex Fire spokesman said: "We have now reduced our attendance to two crews, who will continue to extinguish the fire, which is confirmed to have damaged 60 percent of the factory building and caused the roof to partially collapse. Relief crews will take over at four hour intervals.

"River Way is now open as usual to vehicles and pedestrians, and we anticipate businesses will be able to operate as usual tomorrow.

"A fire investigation is being carried out."