Fire crews hope the blaze which has been smouldering at a waste site in Huddersfield for several days could be extinguished today.

The new owner of the former Hunter Group skip hire site off Queens Mill Road in Lockwood is bringing in an excavator this morning to try to shift some of the waste to allow firefighters to reach the seat of the fire.

If all goes well, fire crews hope the heart of the blaze will be reached quickly, and the fire could be extinguished by lunchtime.

But it may take longer, depending on where the fire is.

And there is a danger, as more oxygen reaches the fire, of flames shooting into the air.

Firefighters visited the site every two hours on Wednesday night to keep an eye on the situation.

The fire was first noticed when council environmental health officers saw wisps of smoke coming from the top of a huge pile of shredded waste containing plastic, wood and paper.

But it is possible it has been smouldering for many days.

Firefighters at waste site off Queen's Mill Road, Lockwood
Firefighters at waste site off Queen's Mill Road, Lockwood

It is believed to have started as a result of a build up of heat within the composted waste.

Two jets of water were directed onto the smouldering pile but fire crews are reluctant to use too much water as the run off could pollute a nearby river.

Video thumbnail, Andrew Robinson reports from abandoned Hunter Site
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Fire officers said the new operator of the site has helped by sending a digger to create a dam to prevent contaminated water from entering the river.

A fire service spokesman said: “Today the new owner is getting some heavy plant down there to start thinning the waste out.

“The fire service will be there to cool things down, as it is likely to flare up when the oxygen reaches it. It is likely to be a big job. We are hoping that with an excavator being used, the seat of the fire will be reached quickly, and it could all be over by lunchtime, but at the moment, there is really no way of telling.”

He said the new owner is being “very amicable and has been working with us to sort it out.”

Fire officers are concerned to prevent a repeat of a fire several years ago at a waste transfer site at Scout Hill, Dewsbury, which burned for many weeks.

Residents have been calling for several weeks for the site to be cleared. There are hundreds of tonnes of waste at the tip, which has been described as “a stinking mess .”

The Environment Agency has staff at the scene, and is working with the council and the site owner to ensure he complies with its permit. The EA said it needs to give the new owner a reasonable amount of time to “bring the site into compliance” before enforcement was considered.