By Oliver Hall
A Londonderry depot, where a huge fire has been blazing since Sunday, was storing tyres illegally, it has emerged.
The depot in Eglinton, which was sub-let, did not have the licence required by environmental law and was ordered to remove tyres seven weeks ago.
The Department of the Environment confirmed that before the fire started a criminal investigation was already under way into why so many tyres were being stored there.
Initially it was thought 50,000 tyres were on the site, but it is now believed there may be 500,000.
The developments came as more than 400 firefighters continued to battle the huge blaze at Campsie industrial estate.
Working in four-hour shifts and for 40 minutes at a time, firefighters have been working in relays to bring the blaze under control.
A DoE spokesperson confirmed a notice to clear up the site had been issued to the owners on August 14 and apparently some tyres were removed.
Normal procedure dictates that if large amounts of tyres are to be stored, the number is determined within the terms of the planning permission or waste management licence.
The onus is on the operator of a site to have the correct licences in place.
The operator of the site has been unavailable for comment.
The owner, who sub-let the site, has declined to comment.