UPDATE: Staff praise firefighters after Halesworth factory blaze
STAFF from a Halesworth factory have been paying tribute to the brave firefighters who helped tackle a blaze after a fire broke out at one of the world's largest industrial hemp processors.
Firefighters were called out at 4.24pm on Monday afternoon after a report of an incident at the factory on Norwich Road, previously called Hemcore.
Mike Duckett, managing director at Hemp Technology Ltd, said the fire-fighting team was 'fantastic'.
'I just think they responded brilliantly,' he added. Fire engines from Halesworth, Bungay, Saxmundham, Southwold and Harleston were called out to the incident and a command support vehicle and water carrier from Leiston also attended.
Incident commander Steve Mableston said: 'We had a fire in a hemp baling machine connected from inside the factory via ducting to an external filtering hopper.
'At this stage it appears that something inside the machinery caused sparking.
'The building was evacuated and all combustible material within the vicinity was removed.'
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Although Mr Mableston said staff had to be evacuated, Mr Duckett added: 'It was not a big deal.'
No one was injured but firefighters spent two hours damping down the internal structures of machinery.
One crew remained at the incident to finish off removing excess hemp from hoppers and ducting, which had been checked using thermal image cameras.
Staff returned the same day and Mr Duckett said business remained normal and their profits had not been affected.
Hemp Technology's website says it is the world's largest processor of industrial hemp and supplier of hemp products, including animal bedding.
It was founded in 1993.