Five people were injured when a major fire broke out at 10 a.m. at a chemical factory making urethane for the plastics industry. Fifteen fire crews, with 75 firefighters, were called to the blaze that was accompanied by a number of gas explosions. Nearby factories and houses were evacuated and 6 roads were closed. Police advised other local residents to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed. 20 tonnes of chemicals which are toxic when exposed to heat and light burned.
It took firefighters four hours to bring the flames under control. The injured include three workers suffering from burns to their back, neck and arms and two firefighters who have breathing problems.
The Environment Agency confirmed that no pollution had found its way into the River Avon as a result of the fire but it was unclear whether the nearby marshes had been affected.
The firm, who employs 15 people, suffered pounds 400,000 damage. No job was lost. The operator plans to build a new manufacturing centre on the fire-hit site in the next six months.
An inquiry carried out by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that unsafe solvent mixing caused the fire: an electrostatic charge ignited solvant vapour as one of the injured employee was decanting solvent from a metal drum into another drum resting on the forks of a FLT. The operator was fined £18,000 + £2,000 costs.