HOMES were evacuated after huge blaze engulfed more than 150 tonnes of plastic and waste.

More than 30 firefighters battled the inferno for more than six hours at the Rockcliffe Works in Paterson Street, Blackburn, yesterday.

Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the controversial former V10 Polymers site from the M65 motorway as the flames ripped through the rubbish at 5.45am.

Residents, many of whom were forced to leave their homes for several hours, said the suspicious fire was an accident 'waiting to happen' as the waste had been building up for some time.

Paul Hudson, of nearby Derham Street, said: “We’ve been so angry at this mess of this site for so long and now look what’s happened.

“I have been complaining for years. I knew something like this would happen.”

His neighbour Marie Parkinson said the smell of the burning plastic was disgusting.

She said: "This was waiting to happen because the waste just kept building up and up.

"It has annoyed so many people here.

"It needs to be removed and replaced by something that's either nice for the area or used properly."

Derham Street was closed until 1.30pm yesterday by police while fire crews from Blackburn, Darwen and Burnley dealt with the incident.

A water tower, a hazardous materials unit and a drone was used to bring the rampaging fire to a close.

Diane Hargreaves, who also lives in Derham Street, said: "I woke up at about 5.45am and I could hear a crackling sound.

"At first I thought it was rain on the window so I went to close the open window and I looked out of it and I saw the huge blaze.

"I went downstairs and then I heard a knock on the door from a policeman telling me to get out of the house."

Her neighbour Bernadette Gibson said: "I was woken up by a banging at the door and I rushed downstairs and I was met by a police officer.

"He told me to go outside and remain outside as there was a huge fire behind my house.

"I was stood outside for a very long time and was allowed to get changed before coming out.

"It was very early and there was lots of police and fire about, it was quite intense.

"The fire was very big. There was lots of smoke and it was thick and black."

The site was previously owned by V10 polymers until the firm went into liquidation but it was now unclear who owns it.

Bob Smith, of nearby Swan Street, said: "The fire caused us great distress, we had to be out of our houses in the early hours of the morning.

"The emergency services were wonderful, they were very hands on and made sure people were evacuated to safety.

"That place is like a dumping ground.

“It’s been full of rubbish for years, it’s horrible and I’m not surprised this has happened.”

Neighbour Jenna McGeough said: "There was lots of people outside watching what was going on.

"We've never seen anything like this before here.

"I thought it was the corner house that was on fire but then we realised it was the waste."

The fire service said the fire was put out at around 1pm and Blackburn with Darwen Council made the site secure with metal fencing.

An inspection was due to take place at 5pm to look into how the fire was started.

Fire commander Lee Garnett said: "People were allowed into their homes once the fire was controlled.

"There was around 150 tonnes of rubbish destroyed in the fire, however it could have been much worse.

"The cause of the fire is potentially suspicious however we will not know until the investigation has been completed.

"We recorded no injuries."

Sgt Neil Pugh said officers were on hand to assist the fire service.

He said: "We knocked on residents doors and evacuated some people who lived close by for their own safety.

"Those a bit further away from the blaze were asked to keep their windows and doors shut.

"The smoke was thick and there was a lot of plastic burning.

"It was not going to be harmful but it was best as a precaution to keep windows and doors shut.

"An investigation was set to take place about how the fire started."