DOZENS of firefighters battled for hours to contain a fire at Stanlow which sent thick smoke billowing over Ellesmere Port.

At just before 8am on Saturday, (January 12) residents living near Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow Refinery on Oil Sites Road were woken by loud sirens as a fire erupted on the site.

Thick black smoke was seen from miles away billowing over Cheshire Oaks and nearby residential estates, as dozens of in house firefighters battled to contain the flames rapidly spreading from a furnace on Platform Three.

Firefighters from Frodsham, Runcorn, Northwich, Crewe, Birchwood, Warrington, Ellesmere Port and Chester fire stations spent 13 hours battling the blaze, working alongside firefighters from Stanlow’s fire service using foam to quell the flames.

No one was hurt in the fire, which saw firefighters finally leave the site at 10.30am on Sunday (January 13) – almost 27 hours after the fire started.

In the hours following the fire The Health Protection Agency issued a smoke inhalation warning to residents living close to the refinery, after thick, non toxic smoke billowed from an exhaust stack.

Essar Oil UK Limited apologised to people living near the site who may have been alarmed by the smoke and assured members of the public the smoke plume was stopped as soon as possible by in-house firefighters.

A spokesperson for Essar Oil UK Limited said: “The fire was in the furnace of a secondary unit and did not impact either of the two main crude distillation units or the residue catalytic cracking unit.

“No one has been injured during the incident. A full investigation has now begun.”

On the morning of the fire residents living across Ellesmere Port took to social networking site twitter to report concerns of seeing a ‘thick black cloud’, ‘billowing smoke’ and hearing a loud ‘air raid siren’ coming from the refiner.

At just after 5pm – 9 hours after the fire started – firefighters from all across the region withdrew to a 25 metre cordon around the fire, and remained at the site overnight to monitor the remains of the fire, which was eventually extinguished at 9pm.

Crews remained at the site to help Essar’s firefighters monitor the cooling down of the furnace until 10.30am on Sunday, when the site was agreed to be stable.