FIRE crews rushed to Taunton's recycling centre after half a million pounds worth of equipment went up in flames.

All of Taunton's three fire engines were needed to tackle the fire, with an additional fire engine and water carrier called to the scene from Bridgwater.

An environmental protection unit was also called to the scene from Taunton.

The crews first received calls of an incident at 8.30pm.

Two members of the public said they were just out for a walk when they spotted smoke pouring from the site.

One said: "I saw it from Kingston Road at about 8.30pm, and so I called the fire brigade and told them about it.

"We had just gone for a walk. I said straight away, I think that is the recycling centre."

Fire crews were on the scene within minutes, and had the fire subdued by 9.30pm.

As firefighters continued to get the smouldering scene under control, one member of the fire crews said: "Crews are dealing with a fire within the composting area at Priorswood Recycling Centre.

"We have a fire involving two large composting machinery and compost materials in and around the machines.

"We were called out at 8.30pm, and initially three pumps were mobilised with additional resources requested.

"The fire was supressed by 9.30pm using two main jets, one hose jet, and four breathing apparatus wearers.

"We are working with site staff and police to establish a cause and extinguish the fire.

"The cause is difficult to see at this moment in time."

Fire crews continued to monitor the scene until 10pm, when they established a cause of the fire.

Talking to the Gazette, the fire officer in charge of the scene said: "Those two machines are about £250,000 each. One is completely destroyed and one is at least partially damaged.

"We have at least 20 people on the scene. We were able to get the pumps here quite quickly, and once we were able to get water on it we were able to flood it and the fire went down quite quickly.

"At this stage we think it is accidental, until we have reviewed the CCTV.

"It looks like it was caused by electrical machinery at this stage."

While the fire service concluded that the incident was caused by an electrical fault within the compost machines, one of the Viridor staff said this was extremely rare.

The man, who has worked for the company for 13 years, said this is only the second fire they have had in that time, and the first one involving a composting machine.

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