Homes evacuated after blaze rips through factory

DANGER: The cylinders, which were initially thought to contain the highly flammable Acetylene.
DANGER: The cylinders, which were initially thought to contain the highly flammable Acetylene.
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FEARS over highly flammable chemicals in a burning building led to homes being evacuated in Hunsworth village.

At least 15 homes were evacuated early on Wednesday morning after a blaze ripped through an engineering unit at Hillside Works.

BLAZE: The engineering unit, at Hillside Works, in Hunsworth.

BLAZE: The engineering unit, at Hillside Works, in Hunsworth.

Whitehall Road to Chain Bar was sealed off as fire crews, worried that the unit contained potentially explosive acetylene cylinders, set up a 200m cordon.

Residents of Oak Rise were woken up by the emergency services and told to leave their homes, and were not allowed back for around three hours. People living in Marsland Court were later advised to evacuate their homes too.

Fire crews from eight stations in West Yorkshire attended the blaze.

Incident commander Steve Naylor said: “The fire was at an engineering unit and we suspected there were acetylene cylinders inside.

“The procedure is to put up a 200m cordon and evacuate nearby homes, because if one of the cylinders went up it could send shrapnel that far.

“We did a risk assessment and reduced the cordon to 100m and then found that acetylene was not involved.

“Then it was a case of letting the public know, re-opening the roads and getting residents back to their houses.”

Mr Naylor said that it was ‘business as usual’ by 11am.

Joyce Bancroft, of Marsland Court, was told to leave her house at 9.15am and went to her daughter’s home nearby.

“When we got up there was a fire,” she said.

“The police came around and said they were making the area safe and we had to evacuate the house.

“They took our mobile phone number and said they would call us to let us know when we could go back.

“They were very good, there was no panic.”

Thick smoke could still be seen along Hunsworth Lane more than three hours later, and motorists found themselves being diverted further down Hunsworth Lane into Moorend.

The owner of the storage unit, Ian Tordoff, said that a neighbouring industrial unit had been broken into on Tuesday night.

“I wonder if they’ve broken into here as well? It just seems too much of a coincidence for that to get broken into and then my place to catch fire,” he said.

Police and fire investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze.