Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was called to an incident on Lancashire Business Enterprise Park at 17:09 on Wednesday evening. Responding to an automatic fire alarm, firefighters were met with a well developed fire in a building storing tissue paper.
For their own safety, firefighters withdrew from the scene and began tackling the fire from a distance. The fire quickly spread to an adjacent property which contained chemicals. Once the chemicals were engulfed in the fire, the firefighters made a decision to evacuate residents from 20 homes in the local area. A technical support team quickly established that the chemical was not harmful to humans, however, the advice for local residents remains the same because of the smoke; stay inside and keep your windows and doors shut.
Four or five properties have been destroyed in the fire which has now been contained. At the height of the incident, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service had over 100 firefighters along with twenty fire engines, two aerial ladder platforms, a high volume pump and a mobile fire station at the scene.
The main West Coast Railway Line remains shut at this time as smoke continues to blow across the tracks and because of beer barrels exploding in the close vicinity. A number of roads are also closed in the area and they will remain shut until it is safe for them to re-open.
At this moment in time, the Fire Service does not know how the fire started. Once the fire has been completely extinguished and the scene has been declared safe, the investigation will begin.
Update at 6:30: The main West Coast reopened just after midnight however, local roads have remained closed overnight. Approximately 60 firefighters along with eight fire engines, an aerial ladder platform, high volume pump and a mobile fire station remain at the scene. The firefighters have now contained the fire to one building.
Updated at 15:00: The number of firefighters at the scene is beginning to be reduced to four fire engines, plus the aerial ladder platform, high volume pump and mobile fire station. The Urban Search and Rescue Team, based in Leyland, will be going to the scene this afternoon to provide lighting on the premises for during the night. A meeting is also scheduled to take place this afternoon, where fire officers will talk to the fire investigation team, the building inspectors from the local authority and the demolition contractors about the next stage of the incident.
Update at 12:00 on Friday – The number of fire engines has now been reduced to 3 along with the aerial ladder platform and high volume pump. and HVP. Specialist demolition contractors are on the site assisting Firefighters in gaining access to the interior of the property.
It is thought that the Fire Service will be in attendance at the incident over the next few days at least. It is understood that some of the businesses which were evacuated have now been allowed back in and are operating although some units are still without gas or electricity.