By Shaun Milne
AROUND 70 fire-fighters were still tackling a massive toxic blaze in West Lothian tonight (Thurs) causing fire chiefs to warn residents to stay inside and close all their windows.
The fire broke out at a packaging plant in Brucefield Industrial Park near Livingston around Midday sending huge plumes of thick, black smoke into the air which could be seen for miles around.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service reported having some nine fire crews at the scene assisted by an additional three height appliances.
An incident support unit and senior officers were on scene while one person, thought to have been an employee – was taken to St John’s Hospital in Livingston suffering from reported burns to his arms.
They were understood to work for the sites owners, Amcor Flexibles Limited, but there was no further information available about their condition.
It was understood at least one fire-fighter was also taken to hospital after becoming ill due in the after effects of fighting the blaze which involved various chemicals used in printing and packaging.
A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “The property, a single storey, steel framed, modern building, contains a large amount of chemicals including printing inks, solvents and acetylene cylinders which can be highly volatile when involved in a fire.
“Our main priority is cooling those cylinders and we are using three height appliances as water towers to facilitate this.
“Residents should stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed to reduce contact with the smoke from the fire.
“We expect this will be a protracted incident and that fire crews will remain at the scene for several hours.
“We are working with other agencies, including the Police on the implications for nearby residents and also SEPA to address environmental issues.”
The huge cloud of smoke also affected rail travel at a time when lines were already busy because of the Pope’s visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
A ScotRail spokesman said of the line closure: “We plan to keep disruption to a minimum while the line is closed.
“Trains will run between Glasgow and Shotts and between Edinburgh and Kirknewton.
“There will be replacement buses between Shotts and Kirknewton.”
Firefighters were still tackling the blaze yesterday afternoon.
It was believed efforts trying to determine the cause of the fire was made problematic because of the amount of chemicals involved.
Amcor said they had no comment to make.
Fire-fighters expected to remain at the scene overnight.