Essex

Firefighters tackle major factory fire in Southend

Scores of people were evacuated from their homes as firefighters tackled a serious blaze in a factory in Southend.

Six hundred people were evacuated from a bingo hall and elderly residents were removed from a care home.

Nine crews fought the fire in a joinery and woodwork factory in Redstock Road shortly after 1900 BST on Tuesday.

An Essex Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said the fire was extinguished by 0100 BST on Wednesday, but three crews remain at the scene.

Explosions heard

About half of the two-storey factory, which measures 30m (98ft) by 10m (33ft), was reported to be well alight and the building was said to be totally smoke-logged.

Essex Police advised people living nearby to close doors and windows.

Many small explosions were also heard inside the building.

Firefighters used an aerial ladder to tackle the blaze.

Crews from Southend, Leigh, Rochford, Rayleigh Weir and Hawkwell were at the scene.

By 2125 BST they had the fire surrounded and had prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings.

Flammable chemicals

Assistant divisional officer Neil Fenwick, incident commander, said: "When crews first arrived they were confronted with a well-developed and quickly-spreading fire in the ground floor of the factory.

"The unit is used as a woodwork factory and the nature of the business has meant that there is a great deal of flammable material inside the factory including wood, sawdust and various chemicals used by the joiners.

"The first crews to arrive quickly escalated the incident and we now have nine appliances tackling the fire.

"Crews have battled hard and have done an excellent job in containing the fire."

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