England

Two bodies found after Stafford fireworks blaze

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Media captionAerial footage shows the damage to the fireworks warehouse

Two bodies have been found in the wreckage of a blaze at a fireworks warehouse in Stafford.

Explosions and thick smoke filled the air when SP Fireworks on the Baswich Industrial Estate caught fire on Thursday night.

One man remains in a critical condition at Birmingham Hospital.

A second man, taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, is recovering at home, Staffordshire Police said.

A 53-year-old man arrested in connection with the fire has been released from custody. He faces no further action and is being treated as a witness.

'Tragic development'

Police said the families of the deceased had been informed and are being offered support by specially trained officers.

The industrial estate, in Tilcon Avenue, will remain cordoned off for the foreseeable future while searches continue.

Supt Ian Coxhead said emergency crews were trying to get the road and local area "back to normality".

Image copyright Jodiphotography
Image caption The blaze could be seen from some distance away, according to onlookers
Image copyright Jack Hope
Image caption Explosions could be seen at the site as fireworks were ignited

"This is a tragic development in a rare and challenging incident, our sympathies go out to the families of those who have sadly lost their lives," he said.

"Our primary concern has been locating those who were unaccounted for.

"Our searches of the building will continue over the weekend as we work to establish the cause of the fire but it will take some time due to the unstable structure of the building and dangerous environment we're working in. "

Staffordshire County Council said on Friday its Trading Standards team inspected the premises on 16 October and it met all safety requirements.

The company has been registered to sell fireworks for the last four years around the Bonfire Night and New Year periods.

'Massive explosions'

Emergency crews were called at about 17:00 GMT on Thursday. Eyewitnesses reported hearing an "enormous bang" and subsequent explosions.

In total four people were hurt in the fire, two men and two women, but only two people were taken to hospital.

At its height, the blaze was being tackled by about 50 firefighters.

Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption The fire service said it used a specialist platform to bring the fire under control
Image caption The fire took about three hours to being under control, fire crews said

Stephanie Horton works in a neighbouring business and was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation at the scene.

She described hearing "three massive explosions" and seeing the owner of a neighbouring business thrown to the floor by the blast.

Eyewitness Robert Hine said it was like "November the 5th 10 times".

Searches of the scene, involving police and firefighters from Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire and Rescue Services, have concluded and will resume on Saturday in daylight, a police spokesman said.

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