Acetylene cylinder fire at Great Yarmouth industrial estate sees 250 workers evacuated

More than 250 workers were evacuated from the Gapton Hall industrial estate after an acetylene cylinder caught fire, leaving it like an 'unexploded bomb'.

Fire crews were called to fabrications company DSL in Faraday Road, Great Yarmouth shortly before 10am today.

They created a 200-metre exclusion zone around the acetylene cylinder, which could have caused serious injuries if it exploded.

Jonathan Wilby, fire station manager for Yarmouth, said: 'There's been a small fire that's affected an acetylene cylinder.

'Obviously when they're involved in fires they're very volatile and can be like an unexploded bomb so what we had to do was look at cooling the cylinder up to a period of 24 hours.'

He said the cylinder seemed to be cooling at a rapid rate so officers may be able to shrink the exclusion zone.

A specialist has been called to take a thermal image of the cylinder and further assess the situation.

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'Our paramount aim is to protect people's safety in the immediate area,' said Mr Wilby. 'We're well aware it causes disruption and we're trying to minimise that to the business community.'

Fire officers do not know how the fire started, but flames were spotted around the valve of the cylinder and an apprentice plater put it out with a fire extinguisher.

The cylinder had heated up and the fire service was called.

Chris Fidds, workshop supervisor at DSL, said: 'It just caught alight at the bottom of the valve so the apprentice got the fire extinguisher and got it out.

'Then we got the police and fire brigade here.'

DSL employs 40 people, but businesses in a 200-metre radius of the firm were also evacuated, and fire officers say more than 250 workers have been evacuated.

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