A TOWER building was engulfed in flames as firefighters tackled an 'awkward' fire at an asphalt yard.

The blaze broke out at Aggregate Industries Express Asphalt plant on the Chaddock Lane Industrial Estate in Kennedy Road, Astley, at around 4.30pm yesterday, Thursday.

It was contained to a building housing a reservoir and a hopper used to pour warm bitumen into the back of lorries to take away for road repairs.

All the employees were evacuated as the building burned and smoke billowed into the sky.

Crew manager Baz Hulme, who was the initial officer in charge, said: "There was quite a lot of smoke.

"The site was up and running when we got there.

"We made sure everybody was out. All persons were accounted for."

The aerial platform from Bolton Fire Station was used to reach the height required to douse the flames.

Mr Hulme said: "It was a four-storey, metal-framed building with wood insulation and wriggly tin (corrugated metal) covering.

"It was very awkward to gain access to the bits that were on fire.

"It was quite dangerous.

"Once we got the high pressure hose in there it knocked it out very quickly.

"We didn't want the asphalt to catch on fire and we put up what we called a water curtain to prevent that.

"If we had persons reported missing and had to commit firefighters in breathing apparatus, that would have been extremely dangerous."

Crews from Atherton, Farnworth and Bolton Central attended the fire.

Colleagues were in attendance overnight to keep an eye on the site and dampen any hotspots.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

A spokesman for Aggregate Industries Express Asphalt said: "We can confirm that a fire occurred yesterday evening at Aggregate Industries’ asphalt plant in Astley.

"Following the fire brigade’s expedient response and with the assistance from Aggregate Industries’ staff, the fire was quickly contained and there were no injuries or threats to the surrounding area.

"We are currently offering our full support to the fire brigade, which is working to determine the cause of the fire, and we are therefore unable to provide any further information at this early stage."