VAST plumes of black smoke rose over Lydney yesterday as fire ripped through a scrap metal yard.
The blaze started at Bendall Metals, in Harbour Road, at around 10.45am when 20 scrap vehicles went up in flames.
The road was immediately sealed off by police at the train station and residents of nearby Cookson Terrace were ordered to shut their windows.
Matthew Timmins, who lives in the Forest of Dean town and works nearby, said: "I was about a mile and a half away and I could hear explosions.
"I saw five fire engines and an ambulance speed by going in that direction and there was lots of smoke too."
The large tower of acrid smoke could be seen from miles away.
Lydney mayor Bob Berryman, who lives in Aylburton, said: "It smelled really terrible, like rubber burning.
"It was thick and black at first, it was right in your face, but then became more grey and thin as the day went on.
"When it first started it really was horrendous, we had to shut our windows.
"It was blowing all the way over towards Chepstow."
An evacuation didn't take place but the Health Protection Agency advised residents in the area to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.
Meanwhile, fire crews from all over the county joined the efforts to extinguish the blaze, which burned for more than five hours.
Incident Commander Steve Bateman said: "This was a well developed fire on an industrial site. The pile of cars measures 30 metres by 60 metres by 10 metres high.
"Local fire crews tackled the fire alongside colleagues from Stroud, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Gloucester and South Wales."
If anyone has any medical concerns after breathing in the smoke, they should seek medical advice or call NHS Direct 0845 4647.