A RECYCLING plant in Ramsbottom has been totally “gutted” by a huge fire which firefighters tackled for almost an entire day.

About 200 tonnes of waste, mostly paper and plastic, at Wheeldons in Kenyon Street, caught fire on June 21.

Crews were called after reports of smoke coming from the roof were made at about 2.40am.

The blaze, which spread quickly, caused huge smoke clouds to gather over Ramsbottom and eventually led to the factory’s roof collapsing.

Fire investigation crews are working with police and Wheeldon’s owner to establish the cause of the blaze, which is still unknown. * Seven pumps were sent to the factory, which manufactures fuel from waste products.

Firefighters used a crane to direct jets of water onto the factory from above and managed to protect nearby businesses from damage.

Fire service incident commander Paul Smitham said: “Everything is gutted.

“A lot of paper and plastics that were being prepared to be recycled have been burnt.

“We don’t know what has caused it at the moment, a fire investigation team will work with the police and the owner to find out.

“We managed to stop the fire spreading to adjacent businesses.”

Nobody was hurt, although so much smoke was created by the blaze that residents were told to keep their windows shut on a sweltering day, while police were forced to temporarily shut Bridge Street to traffic.

Steven Berrisford, who lives about a mile away from Kenyon Street, said: “It was illuminating the church tower at one point.

“Everywhere was covered in soot and it was like a volcano almost, with bits of black stuff landing in the street.”

Fiona, a dental nurse who lives in Peel Brow, near Wheeldons, said: “I couldn’t sleep because of the banging from the metal.

“It was so thick the smoke, you could not see Ramsbottom from up here at all.”

Alec Kenyon, who owns soap manufacturer Kay’s, a business located next to Wheeldons, said: “I’m relieved, I’ve not checked for smoke damage yet but the incident commander has told me we have got nothing to worry about.

“I was concerned but it’s a lot worse when your own place is on fire, which has happened to me before.”