Street sealed off amid explosion fears

A STREET in central Lowestoft was closed last night amid fears that a fire at a car maintenance workshop could cause a gas explosion.Eight fire engines from across Suffolk and Norfolk were called to the blaze at the industrial unit off Norwich Road, which broke out at about 8.

A STREET in central Lowestoft was closed last night amid fears that a fire at a car maintenance workshop could cause a gas explosion.

Eight fire engines from across Suffolk and Norfolk were called to the blaze at the industrial unit off Norwich Road, which broke out at about 8.30pm.

On arrival, firefighters were concerned that acetylene tanks stored in the workshop could explode – endangering people living nearby.

As up to 75 firefighters fought the flames, thermal imaging cameras were used to ensure the tanks were not reaching a dangerous temperature.


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Police officers were also drafted in to clear the road and prepare for a possible evacuation of homes backing onto the workshop. They closed off the road to traffic between its junctions with Avondale Road and Rotterdam Road.

The fire had started in Unit 6 of the small industrial estate, off Norwich Road, after a mechanic working on his car accidentally ignited the petrol tank.

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As the flames took hold, the fire spread to neighbouring units.

The man escaped unhurt, but the blaze caused severe damage to half of the single-storey row of workshops before crews brought it under control.

Divisional officer Eddie Meelan, of Suffolk Fire Service, said: "The units are used for a variety of uses including car and bike repairs. We were initially concerned by the acetylene and gas cylinders, but we were able to use thermal imaging cameras to check they were not warming up. We could then attack the fire from both ends to stop it spreading and close it down. At the height of the incident we had nine jets and 75 personnel dealing with the fire."

As well as four pumps from Lowestoft, one engine from Beccles, and three from Norfolk also attended. The control unit from Beccles and operation support units from Ipswich were also called in.

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