Homes evacuated after lorry depot blaze

A FULL investigation will start todayinto what caused a fire which tore through a lorry depot next to a chemical factory.More than 100 people in Thetford had to be evacuated from their homes because of the fire which started just after 1.

A FULL investigation will start todayinto what caused a fire which tore through a lorry depot next to a chemical factory.

More than 100 people in Thetford had to be evacuated from their homes because of the fire which started just after 1.00am yesterdayat Star Transport in Brunell Way, Thetford.

It took more than 100 firefighters more than six hours to put out the blaze which detroyed eight articulated lorries, 12 trailers and a chemical storage tank. It is understood that 120,000 litres of sodium hypochlorite were lost into drains and the nearby River Little Ouse.

The chemical, which is a powerful bleach, had been stored in 200,000 litre tanks belonging to Albion Chemicals, close to the rear of the Star Transport site where the fire erupted.


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Staff at the chemical plant raced against the clock to decant an estimated 600,000 litres of the chemical from a further three fire damaged tanks in danger of collapse.

Residents of Gloucester Way, which backs onto the industrial estate, were woken at around 2am by the sound of aerosol cans exploding as the fire took hold. The cans had been just some of the items stored in the trailers along with bricks, pet food and other cleaning products.

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Beverly Coddington, 23, said: "There were huge bangs - so loud they were rattling our windows. At first I thought it was fireworks but I looked out of the bedroom window and saw huge flames, higher than the tree-tops and masses of black smoke.

"I was very frightened. I grabbed my daughter and we went to my sisters."

Sheila Bignell, 67, had to spend the night at Drake Infant School and Nursery, waiting to hear if her home was safe to return to.

"I heard cracking and rumbling like thunder, but when I looked at my bathroom window it was just orange like the flames were right outside the house. I was terrified. The noise was horrific," said Mrs Bignell. "I came back at 6am. It was a relief to see the house was fine but I was worried about the chemical leak, we could smell the chemicals burning."

Firefighters had to withdraw from fighting the blaze because of the immediate threat posed by the bleach filled tanks.

Station Officer Peter Abbs, said: "The tanks are showing signs of immediate collapse so we have withdrawn our firefighters from the area. All the firefighters did a fantastic job of stopping the fire from spreading, it could have been a lot worse."

The Environment Agency worked to assess the impact of the leak.

Environmental Officer Rick Warren, said: "This chemical is highly toxic to fish so we are having to keep an eye on the river. If the chemical is well diluted it does not pose a major hazard but we will have to keep monitoring the damage."

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