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A large tire fire at a recycling plant in the village of Minto, N.B., continued to burn Sunday, but firefighters were dumping sand on it in an effort to suffocate the flames.

Geoffrey Downey, spokesman for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said the fire at the TRACC recycling facility was under control as of midday Sunday, about 36 hours after it ignited.

However, he said there are concerns about acrid smoke potentially causing health issues for residents in the area.

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“If people are experiencing any difficulties they think may be related to the smoke, they should seek medical attention right away,” he said in an interview, as snow started falling in the area.

An air quality advisory was sent out on Saturday warning residents of Minto and Chipman of the smoke risk.

Minto has a population of about 2,300, while there are about 1,100 residents of the Chipman area.

However, at various times, the firefighting effort involved up to 21 different fire departments from around the province.

Mr. Downey says firefighters had been allowing the tires to burn on Saturday, sending a plume of smoke up in the air visible from Fredericton.

However, their tactics shifted to smothering the four-metre high tire piles with sand by Sunday afternoon.

“It’s for cutting off the oxygen, to snuff it out,” said Mr. Downey.

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People’s Alliance leader and Fredericton Grand Lake MLA Kris Austin, who lives near the two-hectare facility, described the fire as an economic blow for the community.

He first noticed the fire at 11 p.m. on Friday night, and said he looked out his back window and saw “a red glow” coming from the industrial park.

TRACC is one of the largest employers in Minto, with about 50 people working at the site, he said in an interview Sunday.

He said some of the machinery in the building appears to have been preserved, but there is damage outside of the facility.

“I am also concerned about the environmental and health risks for people who live in Minto,” he said in a news release.

“Once the fire is contained, there is going to be a lot of environmental cleanup I imagine that will go with it,” said Austin.

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Mr. Downey said there was no immediate word on the cause of the blaze or any potential environmental impact.

There were no injuries reported.

A spokesman for TRACC said the company had no immediate comment about the fire but will issue a release in a few days.

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