Melbourne recycling plant fire forces hundreds from homes

Fire crews at the scene of a huge blaze at Coolaroo Recycling Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, July 14, 2017.
Fire crews at the scene of a huge blaze at Coolaroo Recycling Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, July 14, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from their homes in the Australian city of Melbourne as firefighters struggle to contain a blaze at a recycling centre that has sent thick smoke over parts of the city.

The fire, which began on Thursday morning, was fuelled by thousands of tonnes of plastic, cardboard, and paper. It would take days to put out, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade said (MFB).

"There's a lot of smoke being generated that has actually been affecting the community," said MFB officer Mark Swiney. "So we've had to issue an evacuation warning for people in the area."

Aerial images showed the blaze fanning out over a sprawling industrial area with thick grey smoke drifting over nearby neighbourhoods.

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No casualties have been reported.

It was the third time a fire has broken out at the Coolaroo recycling centre this year, with previous ones in June and February.

The company operating the plant, SKM Recycling, has declined to comment until an investigation is complete, media reported.