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Ten fire engines and around 70 firefighters were called to a fire at a landfill site on Launders Lane in Rainham.
Around 55 tonnes of landfill waste was alight and the fire was visible from the A13.
There were a number of gas cylinders in the rubbish. One exploded as it had been exposed to heat.
The Brigade was called at 1302 and the fire was under control by 1602. Fire crews from Harold Hill, Hornchurch, Barking, Plaistow, Romford, Ilford and Bexley fire stations were at the scene. Firefighters will be damping down pockets of fire throughout the evening.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.