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'Major' fire closes Staines town centre

  • 12-7-2014

A "major" fire has closed Staines town centre after a blaze broke out in several industrial units.

Homes have been evacuated and about 100 firefighters were tackling the blaze at the Renshaw Industrial Estate.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said the fire, which broke out shortly after midnight, was now under control and the number of crews had been scaled back.

Specialist officers are expected to remain at the scene for most of the day.

Cylinders exploded

Residents reported a series of explosions through the night.

The fire service said this was thought to be propane cylinders exploding.

Three industrial buildings have been almost completely destroyed.

BBC reporter Adrian Harms said one of the companies affected was a sushi distributor.

Surrey Police tweeted the town centre was closed to traffic because of the "major" fire and urged drivers to avoid the area. 

Some roads have since reopened, but Mill Mead and part of the High Street are expected to remain closed until Tuesday while firefighters damp down the fire and make buildings safe.

South East Coast Ambulance service mobilised its hazardous area response team but said there were no casualties reported.

Residents still in their homes were told to stay indoors after the fire broke out at the estate in Mill Mead at about 00:15 GMT.

On Twitter, passers-by described black smoke covering the town and the industrial estate "in flames".

Residents in Waters Drive told the BBC they were woken in the early hours by loud bangs that sounded like fireworks. 

One woman said she was concerned to see police officers wearing face masks. She said she could smell the smoke and see it in the air but nobody had told them anything.

Alan Clark, fire area commander for Staines, said firefighters and police were wearing masks because they were going into the affected areas.

He said residents should avoid prolonged exposure to the smoke, but he said it was already drifting away.

Asbestos roof sheeting had been found at the site but posed no risk to the public, he added.

About 20 people were moved from their homes to a local rest centre. 

They have been allowed to return home, but people should still keep windows and doors closed, police said.

The fire service said crews were working with police, the ambulance service, the council, utility companies, the Red Cross and the Environment Agency to resolve the situation. 

The Environment Agency said its officers would check water used to fight the fire had not polluted the river, but other experts would check air quality.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2014 BBC

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