SEVERAL explosions that rocked Gomersal late on Sunday night were caused by arsonists who torched four large trailers, leaving the owners with a £60,000 bill.
Police are hunting for two cars that were seen speeding from the scene at around 10.30pm on Sunday, just minutes before the four initial explosions drew dozens of onlookers to the Spen Industrial Estate, off Spen Lane.
It is thought that the culprits attempted to steal the large Bridgestone tyres, but ended up torching the four lorries.
The trailers belonged to Woodside Haulage, a Preston-based firm, and had been parked up during the weekend.
The firm’s general manager Glen Alderdice said he was ‘outraged’ at the cost of the arson attack to the firm..
He said: “We are obviously very disappointed about the financial implications for us. We are outraged about the impact this has had.
“Someone has tried to steal the tyres but have ended up starting a fire and the damage is huge relative to the cost of the tyres themselves.”
Ashley Manning, 18, of Gomersal, was nearby when he saw the drama unfold.
“There were quite a lot of people around when I go up there and people were running across the Mann Dam viaduct to have a look,” he said.
“I could see three or four trucks on fire and there were plumes of thick, black smoke going into the air.
“We heard a second lot of explosions when the fire fighters were there and we saw an ambulance and police coming back.
“The police closed off Spen Lane and a few roads around it. There were lots of people around.”
It took more than an hour for fire crews from Cleckheaton and Odsal to control the blaze.
No-one was hurt during the incident, but police have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire. They said two cars – a silver Ford Fiesta and a purple Ford Focus – were seen driving quickly away from the scene.
Peter Fawcett, of St Peg Lane, captured the incident on video – which is available on the Spenborough Guardian website.
He said: “There were five or six explosions initially. I heard them and ran up the hill, that’s when I knew something big had happened.
“I thought it was a car crash originally but then I saw the smoke going hundreds of feet in the air.
“I rang the fire brigade straight away but they were already on their way.
“There were further explosions nearer 11pm and I started recording the scene on my camera.
“When I was filming, another large explosion happened and it almost blew me backwards.”
l Watch an exclusive video of the fire at www.spenboroughguardian.co.uk.