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Explosion sparks blaze at metal works

AN EXPLOSION resulted in a major fire at one of Ireland's biggest metal works last night.

The fire -- at Hammond Lane metal works outside Ringaskiddy, Co Cork -- was fought by up to 10 units of Cork fire brigade.

The blaze was finally brought under control after an hour and a half by the fire brigade.

The inferno erupted shortly after 5pm and, at one point, flames spiralled so high into the sky that they could be seen from Cobh across Cork harbour.

No one was injured in the incident and the fire is not understood to have posed any public health risk. The blaze is being treated as accidental.

However, Cork Harbour for A Safe Environment (CHASE) last night demanded a detailed statement on whether smoke and fumes from the blaze were potentially hazardous -- and whether any toxic material may have been caught up in the fire.

CHASE Chairperson Mary O'Leary warned that last night's incident -- at an area adjacent to the proposed Cork toxic waste incinerator site -- underlined the potential public health risks of an over-concentration of such industries in Cork harbour.

"The hazard posed is unacceptable to people living and working in Cork Harbour."

However, a spokesman for Indaver, the proposed developers of the toxic waste treatment facility, said the fire underlined the need for the incinerator, suggesting that the cause was a build up of car shred materials.

"This build up occurs because there is currently no suitable local facility to safely treat these materials," the spokesman said.

A probe is now expected into the cause of the blaze.

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