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Smurfit Kappa paper mill to reopen after blaze

Irish packaging giant Smurfit Kappa expects production at a UK paper mill which was the scene of a major blaze this week to recommence this morning.

The fire broke out on Wednesday night in a seven-acre yard beside the 150-year-old Birmingham mill where Smurfit Kappa stores recovered packaging fibre, but didn't reach the factory building.

As many as 30 fire engine units and about 100 firefighters struggled to contain the blaze amid high winds.

No injuries

People living close to the mill were urged to stay indoors but no one was injured during the incident, which caused large traffic snarls in the city.

Intense efforts to extinguish the fire, which was brought under control early yesterday, forced firefighters to resort to drawing water from a nearby canal.

"Approximately 9,000 tonnes of recovered fibre has been damaged, and the mill was temporarily taken offline as a precautionary measure," said a spokesman for Smurfit Kappa.

"There was no damage to the mill due to our water curtain deployment and the wind direction," the spokesman added.

He said the fire was now under control and local management expected production at the 200,000- tonne plant to restart today.

The plant employs about 100 people and the cause of the fire isn't yet known but no suspicious activity has been recorded on CCTV, according to the fire service.

A train carrying highly- flammable aviation fuel that was due to travel past the paper mill had to be stopped eight miles away.

It was able to continue its journey seven hours after the fire broke out.

Smurfit Kappa, headed by chief executive Gary McGann, is Europe's biggest packaging firm.

Its shares fell 2.3pc yesterday.

Irish Independent