NO mains water for fire pumps caused a headache in the heat for firefighters battling a major blaze at a paper recycling plant, near Ledbury.

Flames took hold of a 60m by 40m building at Wye Waste Paper, Court Y Park, Pixley, at 1.30pm today and by 4.30pm, the flames were still not out, as firefighters put on breathing apparatus to deal with burning and smouldering paper.

Station Commander Phil Major, the incident commander said: "It has been very dangerous, with the heat in the building and with some of the beams having collapsed. The building is unsafe, potentially."

The lack of mains water meant water had to be pumped from a nearby golf course, and water was also brought in by two water carriers, each carrying 9000 litres of water.

The blaze was so intense, the water carriers had to be re-filled six times in the first three hours.

Twenty sets of breathing apparatus were used,so that firefighters could enter the smoke-logged building; and at the height of the blaze, six fire appliances were on the scene, from Ledbury, Hereford, Fowhope, Bromyard, Leominster and Whitchurch Stations.

Firefighers worked in ordered shifts to enter the building to fight the flames, before taking rests on the grassy bank before the factory, - while other colleagues entered the building, with the aid of breathing apparatus.

Station Commander Mayor said the aim throughout the evening would be to make the building safe, allowing the removal of all burnt and unburnt paper.

This would probably not happen until the following morning, Thursday, September 11.

The cause of the blaze, at the time of going to press, was not thought to be suspicious.

Firefighters believe one of the compacting machines used in the paper recycling process had caught fire, causing the factory blaze.

But this had not yet been confirmed.