Smoking bottles cause chemical alert

RESIDENTS have been evacuated from their homes tonight after an Essex gardener dug up some smoking bottles.

Russell Claydon

RESIDENTS have been evacuated from their homes tonight after an Essex gardener dug up some smoking bottles.

Bomb disposal experts identified the devices as Second World War bombs used by the Home Guard and will continue their mission to safely dispose of them tomorrow morning.

The drama unfolded in a garden in Banters Lane, Great Leighs at just gone 4pm when a worried resident who had unearthed the bottles, which were billowing smoke and had a foul smell, alerted emergency services.


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Five fire crews were despatched to the scene in the event of dangerous chemicals being identified.

Police evacuated neighbouring properties and a cordon has been set up around the area.

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Pete Little, Essex County Fire and Rescue's Assistant Divisional Officer in charge of the incident, said three people have been treated by Ambulance Service paramedics as a precaution after inhaling fumes from the bottles.

He explained that the Army bomb disposal unit have found the bottles containing a powdery substance to be devices used in the Second World War that had remained undisturbed.

“The Army bomb disposal experts have confirmed that these are phosphorous incendiary devices of a kind that were given to the Home Guard during the war by the Government. It appears they had been buried in a dry pond for many years and were only uncovered by someone digging in their garden this afternoon.

“We expect to be standing by for some hours. We are not entirely sure at this stage how Army experts will dispose of the devices but I believe they will be buried in a skip of sand and removed.”

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