Fire crews save onion factory

By Danielle NuttallFIRE crews have been praised after their swift action in “extremely punishing” conditions stopped a factory from going up in flames.

By Danielle Nuttall

FIRE crews have been praised after their swift action in “extremely punishing” conditions stopped a factory from going up in flames.

More than 40 firefighters were drafted in last night from Suffolk and Norfolk after a huge blaze erupted at an onion factory near Brandon.

The fire broke out at 5.20pm on a small, outside conveyor belt at the Frederick Hiam Foods factory on the Brandon Fields estate.

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But the flames quickly spread to machinery inside the premises and the building soon became engulfed in flames.

Fire crews from Brandon and Thetford were the first to arrive at the scene and undertook the major task of tackling the flames from inside the factory.

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They were joined by firefighters from Mildenhall, Stowmarket, Ixworth, Bury St Edmunds and Norfolk as the flames spread.

Assistant Divisional Officer Pat Dacey, of Suffolk Fire Service, said the blaze had quickly taken hold of the factory.

He praised the work of the crews who were forced to work in extreme heat and smoke to stop the building from being destroyed by fire.

“The initial crews to arrive were Brandon and Thetford and they were faced with a very severe fire involving the entire factory unit,” said Mr Dacey.

“The first crews did an extremely good job of rapid intervention in what were extremely punishing circumstances for the firefighters.

“There was a tremendous amount of heat and smoke in the factory unit and they were able to stop the fire destroying the entire factory.”

The blaze started on a conveyor belt located outside the building, which fed onion skins into a larger machine.

“It was a combination of the weather and the onion skins as they were very dry and the fire quickly spread down the conveyor belt and into the main factory,” said Mr Dacey.

The fire was under control by 7.26pm,but crews remained at the scene throughout the night to continue dampening down the premises.

No-one was injured in the blaze as factory workers had already left work for the night, but the damage to the building is expected to run into several thousand pounds.

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