WALKERBURN residents are being warned to not to move debris from this morning's fire – following fears over asbestos.

Emergency service teams rushed to the blaze at Rathburn Chemicals just before 7am.

Council bosses are now carrying out a risk assessment after it emerged roof tiles from the plant may contain asbestos.

Specialists are expected to be drafted in later today to clear up the site.

And locals are being urged to contact environmental health, if they spot any debris in their property.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: "At around 7am this morning Scottish Borders Council was notified by Police Scotland of a fire incident in Walkerburn, later declared a major incident.

"A number of households were evacuated as a precaution.

"A total of 26 people were accommodated in a rest centre at the Village Hall and support was provided, before the residents were allowed to return home at lunchtime.

"Debris from the incident has been distributed into neighbouring residential areas in the vicinity of Caberston Road, which the council believes includes roof tiles which may contain asbestos.

"A risk assessment is being carried out, however we believe that the risk to the public is very low due to the type of material involved.

"Whilst the responsibility for the clean-up will be the responsibility of the site owners, Scottish Borders Council and partners are working closely with them to ensure that all public safety matters are dealt with as a priority.

"Any member of the public who finds debris within their property is asked to leave it in situ and contact Scottish Borders Council’s Environmental Health team via 0300 100 1800.

"The aim is for specialist licensed contractors to be on site later today to commence clean-up operations. This may require access to some private property.

"Scottish Borders Council continues to work with partners in relation to the incident."

As previously reported, two people were taken to hospital as a precaution following the blaze.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service group commander Alex Hume said: "Operations Control mobilised two fire appliances and two specialist resources due to potentially hazardous materials, and firefighters worked to extinguish the flames and make the area safe.

"Two casualties were treated at the scene, and transported by ambulance to Borders General Hospital as a precaution.

"The fire has now been fully extinguished and precautionary checks carried out, and the site has been handed back to the occupier.

"We thank our crews, emergency service colleagues and partners for their support in bringing this incident to a safe conclusion."