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Fire at Campo chemical plant

* Gibraltar Government says smoke plume is above the height of Gibraltar and to the west of the Rock. "There is no cause for concern," a spokesman says.

Emergency services in the Campo de Gibraltar are responding to a fire in a petrochemical plant which has sent a thick plume of smoke over the Bay of Gibraltar.

The fire is on the premises of a company called Indorama, which produces plastics, and is believed to be confined to a warehouse used to store petrochemical products.

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A spokeswoman for the company told the Chronicle that an emergency response plan had been triggered.

She said there were no reports of any casualties or injuries at this early stage, adding that it was too early to say what had caused the fire.

Three hours after the start of the fire, the spokeswoman said: "At this time the fire is being controlled. We regret the inconvenience that we have caused to the population."

A spokesman for the Consorcio de Bomberos in the Campo de Gibraltar, which provides fire and rescue response services to all municipalities in the region, said it had received over 50 calls after the fire broke out.

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In Algeciras, the city council activated its emergency response plan pending further information on the incident.

The council in San Roque was also expected to declare a state of emergency but has played down concerns about the toxicity of the smoke.

Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, the mayor of San Roque, told the Chronicle that the products in the warehouse were highly flammable, making it difficult to extinguish the blaze.

Firefighters from the Campo have sent reinforcements to the site, as has the nearby Cepsa refinery, and the aim is to keep the fire under control to avoid it spreading further while it burns out.

"We have to remain prudent and avoid creating alarm on social media," he said.

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People close to site at the northern end of the Bay of Gibraltar have been advised to keep indoors with windows shut.

There are also traffic restrictions in place and people are urged to avoid driving on the A-7 if possible.

Authorities in Gibraltar were monitoring the situation and have been in contact with their Spanish counterparts.

"The Chief Fire Officer has offered assistance to colleagues across the frontier," said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in a tweet.

"Until we are clear on the chemical composition of the plume of smoke arising from the fire in Los Barrios we recommend we should all stay indoors as a precaution with doors & windows shut. Stay safe."

In a subsequent update, however, the Gibraltar Government played down any immediate concerns arising from the incident.

"The majority of the plume of smoke is to the west of Gibraltar over the sea," No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

"The smaller and higher element of the cloud is above the height of the Rock."

"Under current meteorological conditions, there is no cause for concern. We will continue to monitor the situation and to update the public accordingly."

LATE UPDATE:

At 7pm, the Gibraltar Government said: "We continue to monitor the plume but there is no reason to believe that it is toxic."

"The wind continues to blow the plume away from Gibraltar and, as it disperses over the Bay, we do not expect the Rock to be affected."

Additional reporting by Maria Jesus Corrales. Photos and video by Eyleen Gomez and Stephen Ignacio.