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Estate shut after explosives blaze

Fire involving explosive materials


A Hampshire industrial estate has been closed following a blaze involving highly explosive materials.

Fire crews were called to Solent Business Estate in Botley Road, Hedge End, where a building containing acetylene, propane and butane cylinders, as well as diesel, caught fire.

An exclusion zone of 200m (640ft) was set up, but this was later reduced to 50m (164ft).

The cordon will remain in place and some businesses will stay shut as investigations take place to establish what caused the fire.

A road between the Hedge End council depot and Charles Watts Way was also shut.

Group manager Dave Norgate, of Hampshire fire service, said: "This incident highlights the disruptive nature of a fire involving acetylene cylinders.

"Acetylene is an extremely flammable gas and when there is a fire it means a disruption to businesses, a disruption to people's lives, and also a lengthy disruption to the fire and rescue service with firefighters having to monitor any unexploded cylinders for up to 24 hours."

He added that alternative gases could be used instead of acetylene that are less hazardous.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: This was a potentially disastrous work accident.

"Organisations manufacturing, using or storing explosive materials need to do so in a way that does not pose a risk or injury or death to workers and members of the public."

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