May 18 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Fire crews have left the scene of a blaze at an industrial unit in Swaffham toniht to which 40 firefighters were called.
Firefighters from across West Norfolk rushed to the fire on Lynn Road just after 6.30pm, but did not enter the unit for nearly three hours as they tried to find out what it contained, amid fears that there may have been chemicals inside.
Residents close to the building, behind the Travis Perkins site, were told to keep doors and windows closed, though houses were not evacuated, and an environmental protection unit was called to the scene. There were no reports of casualties.
At one point five fire engines, police, paramedics, a hazardous area response team and a water carrier were in attendance.
Crews revealed plant fertiliser and grass seed had caught fire. No dangerous chemicals were believed to have been involved and only minor damage was done to the building.
Speaking at 11.20pm, fire group manager Peter Holliday said: “We sent two breathing apparatus teams into the building through a safe route to extinguish the fire using hoses and a small fire was extinguished, and we are now handing over the property to its occupiers.
“All the substances involved were low hazard. There is fire damage to a small area and a bench and some of the structure, and smoke damage.
“Getting the information was the difficult part for this incident.”
He said firefighters would return later to investigate the cause, but there was currently no reason to believe it was deliberate
Tom Dickerson, who owns the building, said it is currently occupied by tenants. He said: “It’s used for storage. It sits empty most of the time. I just got a phone call to say that there was smoke in the building and the fire brigade was called.”
Crews from as far away as Fakenham and Sprowston joined colleagues from Watton, Dereham, Swaffham and King’s Lynn at the fire, and adopted a “defensive mode” in the early stages to prevent the fire from spreading further than the 30m by 15m unit.
Trevor Bowman, who lives on nearby Highfield Avenue, said: “About 6.30pm a rubbery smell and smoke engulfed Highfields Avenue.
“There were about three fire engines at first and then all these arrived. I did not see flames, just this horrible thick smoke.
Crews were due to hand the building back to the owners by midnight.
Nearly 3,000 people have supported a Facebook campaign demanding safety improvements on the A47 near Dereham set up after the latest fatal crash.
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