Residents Evacuated After Fire

Solvents with Safety

21.06.2010

Residents Evacuated After Fire

A major fire at a chemical factory in north Nottinghamshire resulted in local residents being evacuated as thick toxic smoke billowed from the site, fire chiefs said.

Up to 80 firefighters fought the blaze in Harworth near the border with South Yorkshire.

Emergency services advised some residents to leave their homes, while others were told to keep windows shut as Solvents with Safety, on Plumtree Industrial Estate, was consumed by fire.

There were several reports of large explosions at the site, thought to be gas canisters, but there were no reports of injuries.

Station manager Craig Holmes said the chemicals involved made the fire difficult to suppress as his teams decided not to pump water on to the blaze due to the risk of it coming into contact with chemicals at the factory and running off into water courses.

He said: "After consulting with Hazardous Materials Officers we decided the best course of action would be to adopt a defensive role.

"That is not applying water on to the fire for the simple reason of the environmental impact from the water run-off would have been more damaging than the fire itself".

Copyright © Press Association 2010

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Whilst the circumstances of this serious work accident are unknown, clearly something went very wrong.

"Fires at work or explosions at work, pose a risk not only to workers but also local residents.

"Those manufacturing, using or storing flammable or explosive substances need to do so safely to avoid the risk of an accident at work."

Mr Urpeth represented over 75 workers and many residents who were injured in the 2001 at the Killingholme refinery when over 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire, the largest chemical disaster since Flixborough. Conoco-Phillips, who owned the plant, was eventually fined £1m for breaching health and safety regulations after the explosion at its Humber refinery.