NEIGHBOURS living in the shadow of a former plastic recycling site engulfed by flames for the fourth time this year said they ‘constantly live in fear for their safety’.

Seven families in Derham Street, Blackburn, were evacuated from their homes after the former V10 Polymers Site in nearby Paterson Street caught light.

More than 60 firefighters from across the region battled for hours from 5am yesterday to control the blaze.

A ‘thick, black plume’ of smoke could be seen across the Blackburn skyline and as far away as the M65 during rush hour.

Landlady Carole Davis, who runs the nearby Clifton Arms in Grimshaw Park, said she was terrified when she saw 12,000 tonnes of waste engulfed by an inferno.

Mrs Davis, whose pub backs onto the site, had previously spoken out about her safety concerns regarding the large amount of waste at the site.

She said: “It’s happened too many times now. It has gone beyond a joke.

“There had been fireworks going off that night and I woke up and heard the popping and thought it was that at first.

“I looked out my window in the flat above the pub and saw the flames lashing against my wall.

“We said this would happen, why has the rubbish not been cleared up? Why has no one been punished?

“It’s happened again and again and it’s really worrying a lot of people.

“People are constantly living in fear for their safety over these fires.”

Volunteers opened up the Ivy Community Centre in nearby Ivy Close and prepared hot meals for people who were forced out of their homes.

Highfield Road, Mosley Street and Grimshaw Park were closed by police, while the Environment Agency and other agencies attended the site.

An emergency meeting was held at Blackburn Town Hall with representatives from Blackburn with Darwen Council, police, fire service and Environment Agency to discuss a plan to tackle the site and manage the risk to residents.

Since the first blaze in August, fire breaks had been put in place to stop flames spreading so easily and a part of the former mill was demolished.

Christine Connell, from Ivy Street Community Centre, said: “We all expected this to happen at some point again so we were ready.

“We also stayed open into the afternoon as there was a chance residents would not be allowed into their homes or more would have to be evacuated and stay for a hot meal.

“We wish someone would come along and clean the whole area.

“Everyone thought that part would be next to go up in flames as it was the next building along.

“It’s so tiring and everyone is fed up with what’s going on.”

Tracey Cassidy, who lives in nearby Mosley Street, told the Lancashire Telegraph last month the waste needed moving because kids were seen playing nearby.

Previous owners V10 Polymers went bankrupt selling the site to Holt Development, which subsequently went into receivership. The site is now held by liquidators.

John Charters, fire service area manager, said the site holds a potential risk to residents now security guards monitoring the site have been removed.

He said: “After recent events have taken place we have seen the site change hands and at the moment the security has been removed from the site.

“This makes the site more vulnerable and it is our, and our partners' job, to make it safe again.

“A thick, black, plume came up out of the site and we had 12 fire engines on site to battle the fire.

“We asked people to keep their windows and doors closed and not to walk directly into the smoke as it dropped.

“The cause of the fire is not known at this time and the investigation work is still ongoing.”

No one was inside the building when the firefighters arrived.

A police spokesman said the roads in the immediate area would remain closed until the fire was fully extinguished, which was expected to take at least 24 hours.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Our staff are on site to monitor and minimise any potential impacts of the fire on the environment. Fire water is being recirculated on site as much as possible and any run-off is being stored between two locked gates, in order to minimise impact on the environment. We will continue to work closely with partners on the investigation.”