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Tonnes of aerosol cans exploded in devastating East Winch building fire

PUBLISHED: 09:21 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:43 20 October 2016

Fire crews at the scene of a large barn fire at Old Station Yard, East Winch. Picture: Ian Burt

Fire crews at the scene of a large barn fire at Old Station Yard, East Winch. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2016

About 60 firefighters tackled a "devastating" fire at a commercial unit at East Winch in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Fire crews at the scene of a large barn fire at Old Station Yard, East Winch. Picture: Ian BurtFire crews at the scene of a large barn fire at Old Station Yard, East Winch. Picture: Ian Burt

Crews were alerted at around 1.30am and responded to Old Station Yard on Gayton Road where a large building was on fire. 16 fire appliances were involved through the night on a rotation..

The fire was brought under control by around 6am and only a few of those crews remained on scene to help dampen down.

The former grain store has more recently been used as a storage premises for about three companies and is believed to have contained aerosols and propane cylinders.

Neighbours described hearing a loud bang around 1.30am, causing their windows to rattle.

Mervyn Peak, 67, said: “The windows reverberated and at first I thought it was a bird striking against the glass. It was fairly alarming. When I saw the emergency services arrive I assumed it had been some sort of gas cylinder which had exploded. It rattled all our windows.
“They have been working all through the night and they must be exhausted, they have done a fantastic job. I am just glad there has been nobody hurt.”Tony White, Station manager at Kings Lynn North, said there had been “tonnes” of small aerosol cans exploding as the fire burnt, posing a serious threat to the fire fighters.

“Due to the nature of the premises, containing cylinders and aerosols, it was just too dangerous for us to approach so we stayed back and applied water from a distance,” he said.

“We could not enter the building because it was structurally unsafe to do so when cylinders were exploding around us.

“We only started to scale back resources about 6am when we had the fire under control. There were six containers full of these aerosol cans, and we are talking tonnes of it. We stayed away and used the aerial ladder platform to reach in on our behalf. 
“The back gable has fallen completely away from the building, and the whole structure is now unsafe. This was a huge fire and when we got here the flames were about three metres above the roof, with thick billowing smoke. It was a really intense fire. Cylinders were exploding with quite loud bangs so it was very dangerous when we arrived.
“These fire crews are all professionals and they have worked hard to put the fire out as quickly and safely as possible.”

Employees who arrived for work in the morning were turned away, and the owner and tenants of the building have been informed.

Peter Holliday, group manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service who was in charge of the incident, said “thankfully” there were no acetylene cylinders involved in the “devastating” fire which has completely destroyed the building.

He said: “The initial crews were faced with a fully developed fire.

“Nothing was salvageable from the building. We used defensive tactics. We used the aerial ladder platform to put water into the building from above.

“We didn’t put firefighters into the building. We weren’t going to put firefighters at risk.

“Thankfully there was no residential property that were within the vicinity of the fire.”

Mr Holliday said the building was quite isolated which meant they needed a number of appliances at the scene to help with water supply at the scene. Crews attending the fire included appliances from Kings Lynn South, the aerial ladder platform and two appliances from Kings Lynn North, one appliance from Swaffham, one appliance from Massingham, one appliance from Terrington, the water carrier and a support appliance from Fakenham, the control Unit and a support appliance from Wymondham, Sprowston Environmental Protection Unit and a support appliance, one appliance from Hunstanton and two appliances from Sandringham.

Mr Holliday said there was no possibility of the building being used again and expects it to be pulled down.

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