FRIGHTENED residents with homes near the fire said it looked like “hell was on fire”.

The fire sent ash and thick, black smoke pouring into the sky and towards residents’ homes and business.

Gill Lewis, 52, who owns Crofters Kennels, in Beke Hall Chase South, Rawreth, opposite the fire site, said her staff had to watch over the dogs all night to make sure theywere all right.

She added: “A couple of the dogs were quite anxious. There was a lot of barking and some were quite distressed.

“The scariest thing was the noise. Even though we were quite far away, it was like you were standing right next to a huge bonfire. You could hear lots of cracking and popping.

“I just wanted to get away, but there was nowhere to go, so we had to stay and monitor everything.

“We checked the ash hadn’t got on the kennels, the dogs weren’t getting too distressed and kept an eye on everything.

“This was totally predicted. We have been worried about this happening for a long time. We always said,what if there’s a big fire? This has demonstrated how dangerous it is.

“We needed to have action before what everyone was saying was proven.Thank God no one was hurt.”

Les Rawlings, 66, who also lives in BekeHall Chase South, and was confronted with thick plumes of smoke when he went to walk his dog, Lulu.

He said: “It looked like hell burning. I just couldn’t believe that it was that huge.

“We saw this massive cloud of smoke coming towards us. I thought the kennels were on fire.

“We went closer to see where it was coming from and then we saw the orange flames about 20ft high.

It was massive. We couldn’t believe it. The smell was terrible. We had to get inside and shut thewindows.

“I was coughing all day from the smoke. Noone has told us the air is toxic, but you can smell rubber and there will be all sorts of chemicals on the tyres, plus who knows what else in there? There could be asbestos in there. There’s a worry there could be all sorts of things in the air.

“I will probably go to the doctor at the end of the week to get my lungs checked out.”

A third Beke Hall Chase South resident, Andrea Ellis, 41, said: “We are the closest property to the fire.

“I walked down to our field and could hear the cracking of trees.

The flames were 50ft tall. I’ve never seen a fire like it inmy life.

“The embers were like lumps of coal raining down into our garden and fields. It was such a vast, black plume of smoke I felt sure it was a train crash.

“The fire crews haven’t stopped. Their work has been amazing.

"Everyone is moaning about the traffic and although it’s frustrating, let’s hope the firemen don’t get hurt.”