The scene of the blaze in Hadleigh on Saturday morning

Hadleigh: Tanker blaze is being treated as suspicious

Saturday, November 17, 2012
12.34 PM

A BLAZE which engulfed three fuel tankers and threatened to ignite 50,000 litres of fuel, is being treated as suspicious.

This morning a team from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service were beginning to examine the still smoking wreckage at the UKAY Fuel Limited storage depot on Lady Lane Industrial Estate in Hadleigh.

Police have also now launched an inquiry to trace who may have started the blaze.

All three tankers, two of which contained high levels of kerosene and oil gas, were completely destroyed by the blaze which sent columns of fire 100ft into the air.

Managers of the depot were said to be in a meeting with fire officers and were unavailable for comment.

More than fifty firefighters from across Suffolk were called to the depot at 6.40pm yesterday.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham said crews battled for 90 minutes to prevent flames spreading from the burning vehicles to an underground tank of fuel.

Police set up a 300m cordon and warned those living near the site, to close their windows and stay inside.

Louis Callaway-Rush, 22, was at a petrol station in Lady Lane when a woman rushed in and broke the news.

“I went round the corner and then I heard two almighty bangs as two of the tanks went up.

“It is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen up close.

“The flames were probably 100ft high.”

The A1071 was later closed to all traffic as emergency services set up a command post to deal with the situation.

The road was reopened about at 10.50pm.

Dep Chf Hardingham said the first of the tankers had been empty but the second vehicle contained 12,000 litres of kerosene.

The third tanker contained 15,000 litres of gas oil and 2,000 litres of road fuel.

The tankers were parked a short distance away from an underground storage unit that held about 50,000 litres of fuel.

Firefighters sprayed the tank, which was said to already be hot, with cold water to prevent the gas oil from igniting.

Dep Chf Hardingham, who praised the efforts of his crews and other emergency services at the scene, said: “Our main concern was about the storage tank. If the fire had spread it would have been much more significant for the premises and the surrounding businesses.”

All of the tankers were extinguished by about 9pm.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward by calling 101

For a video and gallery of the blaze click on the link at the top right corner of this story.