FIREFIGHTERS were on hand for eight hours attempting to contain a blaze when four thousand tonnes of wood chip caught alight a Harwich International Port.

Crews from Dovercourt and Manningtree were at the quay shortly before 6am on Friday and had to use water cannons to control the fire before using heavy machinery to expose smouldering patches which needed to be extinguished.

At 12.15pm crews used a digger to remove chips not involved in the fire and place them on trucks to be taken away from the area.

Assistant Divisional Officer Darren Holiday, said: “The pile was large and covered an area of 50 metres by 30 metres and at its tallest points is 20 metres tall.

“We had three hose reel jets and a monitor on it which we are using to control the fire while we created a fire break in the pile.

“An excavator was used to remove chips and create the fire break.

“ Once that had been done all the chips not involved in the fire were removed from the site and the remaining chips are being allowed to burn in a controlled way.

“All of the smoke is blowing out over the sea and is not affecting any homes.”

The fire service left the scene just before 2pm with the wood chips being left to burn away under supervision of port staff.

The wood chips are expected to continue to burn for a number of days but there are no surrounding risks.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.