Video & Gallery: 200 people evacuated in warehouse blaze drama

MORE than 200 people were evacuated from their homes after a huge fire ripped through an industrial warehouse in Maldon.

MORE than 200 people were evacuated from their homes after a huge fire ripped through an industrial warehouse in Maldon.

A total of 14 fire crews from across Essex were sent to premises belonging to Calorex, a large heating equipment supplier, on Galliford Road, just off The Causeway in Heybridge this morning.

Because of a number of chemical containers at the property, including 10 highly flammable acetylene cylinders, police set up a 200 metre exclusion zone around the blazing building.

There were also concerns that the roof of the building may have contained asbestos.

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Evacuated people were taken to Maldon Town Hall and Plantation Hall in Heybridge where they were looked after by Maldon District Council.

The cause of the fire is unknown and an investigation has been launched.

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The alarm was raised shortly before 9.30am and fire crews from Maldon, Witham, Tiptree, Tollesbury, South Woodham Ferrers and Colchester were sent to the building, which also housed workshop facilities.

Two aerial ladder platforms were deployed to help fight the flames and a high volume pump was used to pull water from a nearby river.

Three units from the county's Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) were sent to help try and stem the fire with specialist equipment.

Police advised people living nearby to stay inside and keep all their doors and windows closed, although they sought to reassure residents that, should they come in to contact with any of the smoke, the risk was low.

While the fire was at its height roads closed included The Causeway, Anchor Lane, Holloway Road at the junction with Crescent Road up to the junction with Wood Lane, The Street at Hall Road and Fullbridge near the Tesco roundabout.

However, at around 2pm the exclusion zone was scaled down to 100 metres and all roads except The Causeway were reopened.

Calorex is a privately owned British company which employs more than 150 people to design, manufacture and support products that are exported to more than 60 countries.

It makes domestic and commercial heat pumps, dehumidifiers and humidifiers, portable air conditioning units and swimming pool environmental control systems.

Shortly after 2.30pm the blaze was mostly out and firefighters began damping down hotspots and cooling cylinders.

Crews are expected to remain at the scene all night.

Incident Commander-Assistant Divisional Officer Terry Povey said: “Firefighters have worked excellently tackling the fire at the warehouse today and preventing it from spreading to neighbouring business premises.

“Approximately 200 people were evacuated from properties and residential streets nearby, as 10 acetylene cylinders were involved in the fire.

“Once these cylinders are heated there is a risk of them exploding, so a 100 metre hazard zone will remain in place for the next 24 hours.

“Two aerial ladder platforms have been in use to tackle the fire, along with the high volume pump, where water was being taken from the nearby river Blackwater as initial supplies were limited.”

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