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Chemical fire forces 150 from homes

17 June 2009

A town was engulfed in smoke and 150 people were evacuated from their homes on the 17th June after a major fire in an industrial packaging site. Eighty firefighters were tackling the blaze at the Skymark chemical plant on Southern Avenue in Leominster, Herefordshire.

Fire (picture by Jim Melia)
Fire (picture by Jim Melia)

A 400-metre cordon was set up around the site and 150 neighbouring residents were evacuated to a nearby sports centre homes due to the possible danger of explosions during the blaze.

The fire service, which was called to the site at about 3:30 am, and tried to control the inferno at the site which contains a significant amount of solvents and LPG gas cylinders, and 50,00 litres of chemicals. The chemical causing the most concern is a type of isocyanate which can be toxic, and is used to make clear plastic films used in packaging. A plume of black smoke carrying chemicals out of this factory premises could be seen for many miles away.

There have been no reports of casualties, but fire crews advised other people whose homes were caught up in the smoke to remain indoors with windows shut until conditions improved. The fire was tackled externally because of the dangers not just to firefighters but also to the immediate population around that area.

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