FIREFIGHTERS could take until this evening to get a blaze at Southampton Docks under control.

More than 35 firefighters are battling the fire at the king George V dry docks after it broke out just after 9am in a pile of some 50,000 tonnes of scrap metal.

A spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue said around five tonnes of the pile of metal was on fire and efforts are being centred on separating it from the rest of the material to prevent the blaze spreading further.

Mickey Smither, incident commander, said: “We have no idea how the fire started as yet, but that will be part of an investigation which will be started in due course.

“Any fire has the potential to get worse but we are working hard to separate the metal that is burning from that which isn't.”

He added: “I see no reason why we won't be successful in stopping the spread of the fire, but we need to work hard and fast to do that.”

The service is predicting it could take until this evening before the fire is under control and extinguished.

Foam and jets are being used to try and extinguish the blaze and specialist aerial ladders have been called in from Portsmouth and St Mary's to help tackle the fire.

Police and ambulance crews are also in attendance but no injuries have so far been reported.

Meanwhile residents living under a plume of smoke that is billowing from the scene at Western Avenue are being urged to stay indoors and to close windows and doors.

Although not toxic the fumes from the fire are causing thick smoke to drift across the city particularly over the Freemantle and Millbrook area.

Mr Smither added: “I understand that the smoke plume is hanging around areas of the city at quite a low level. The message is not to stay in the smoke plume and close your windows and doors if it is affecting you in that way.”

According to Southampton City Council no roads have been closed as a result of the smoke but public buildings and schools have been sent the advice from the fire service about not breathing in the smoke.

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