FIREFIGHTERS are battling a tyre blaze that has left a huge pall of thick black smoke over a wide area.
The billowing cloud reached 5,000ft into the sky – and could even be seen from space, with Nasa satellite pictures clearly showing the giant plume.
While teams of firefighters from tackled the flames below, local schools were warned to keep pupils and staff inside and householders in the area were advised to keep windows and doors shut.
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And fire chiefs have warned that the blaze at Newgen Recycling will burn for days and could smoulder for weeks.
Firefighters were first called to the scene at Sherburn-in-Elmet, south of Tadcaster, at 8.37am today (Thursday, January 16) when initially it was thought some 200 tonnes of tyres were ablaze.
However the situation quickly escalated and by the middle of the afternoon it was estimated that around 15,000 tonnes of tyres could be involved and 14 fire engines were at the scene.
The smoke was heading from Sherburn-in-Elmet across the North Yorkshire moors towards the east coast and, according to the police, the risk to the public was low as it was high in the sky.
A Public Health England spokesman said: “So far, there have been no reports of any people experiencing ill effects from this fire.”
Despite the size of the fire there has only been limited disruption to the road and rail network, with the only delays on the B1222 at Sherburn.
A team from the Environment Agency is also on the scene, closely monitoring the situation.