RESIDENTS of Cupar Muir were put on standby for evacuation last Friday after a fire at nearby Damside Mill released a thick cloud of toxic smoke into the air.
Up to 60 firefighters battled all day to control the huge blaze at the ABN animal feed plant to the south west of Cupar.
Explosions were heard as the fire tore through a section of the building containing oil and chemical cylinders, causing part of the roof to collapse.
Nobody was hurt in the blaze and all staff were accounted for.
While Cupar Muir residents were allowed to remain in their homes, businesses at the industrial estate neigbouring the mill were evacuated in the afternoon amid safety fears.
Austin MacPhee of AM Sports Tours said: “The police told us that we had to evacuate at 4pm.
“They said it would be for four hours or so as they were concerned about some of the chemicals in the building.”
The alarm was first raised shortly before 10.45am last Friday.
Eight fire appliances, four special appliances and a control unit were called to the scene, along with a decontamination unit given the chemicals involved and the possibility of asbestos.
An official from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency was quickly on site, tasked with monitoring the air quality.
As concerns over the chemicals rose, Fife Council minivans arrived in Cupar Muir ready to take residents to an emergency rest centre at Bell Baxter High School in Cupar.
But the area was declared safe shortly afterwards.
Fife’s chief fire officer, Neil McFarlane, praised the work of everyone involved in the operation.
He said: “Once again Fife’s public services have pulled together to manage the emergency event and ensure the safety of the public.
“Fire crews have done a fantastic job and have dealt with the situation magnificently, helped and supported by other Fife public services.”
A spokesman for ABN said the building was being assessed for structural safety so a clean-up operation could begin.
He went on: “The team of 44 people employed at the site are currently in attendance and are directly involved in the process of safeguarding the site and returning it to normal operations.
“Health and safety procedures and other activities are ongoing, but once these procedures are complete our intention is to return the site to normal operations.
“The ABN site at Cupar is an important site for the business and we are keen to restore activities to business as usual as soon as possible.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing when the Fife Herald went to press.