Massive factory blaze

MORE than 150 firefighters were dealing with a massive factory blaze in a Suffolk town today.Flames tore through the Premier Foods factory, in Mildenhall Road, Bury St Edmunds at about 1.

MORE than 150 fire fighters were dealing with a massive factory blaze in a Suffolk town today.

Flames tore through the Premier Foods factory, in Mildenhall Road, Bury St Edmunds at about 1.30am.

The fire is thought to have started in some wooden pallets, but soon after a loud explosion was heard as a gas cylinder went up in flames.

The 40 workers inside the building at the time of the incident had already been evacuated by this time and no one was injured.

The blaze, which has devastated most of the building, saw large plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.

Fire investigators were this morning probing the cause of the incident. It is not yet known what caused it.

Most Read

Assistant chief officer Lee Howell, based in Colchester Road, Ipswich, said 25 fire engines had been drafted in from all over the region - including Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Essex.

He said crews would remain on site for most of today to extinguish the remaining "pockets of fire" and to protect gas cylinders still inside the building.

It is thought the blaze was focused on 40 per cent of the building, although the majority of it has been badly damaged by smoke.

Mother-of-two Hazel Smith, 29, who lives opposite the factory, said she feared she may have had to leave her home at one point.

"The first thing I knew was when I was woken up by a loud bang," she said. "We thought it was kids messing about but then I looked out of the window and saw smoke rising.

"As soon as I looked out of the window I saw people were coming out. They weren't running but they were moving very quickly.

"The worst bit was when we were told we might have to be evacuated because of the gas cylinders. They moved all the employees behind the houses and it was a very worrying time.

"Fortunately, we didn't have to leave the house though."

Brian Carlton, crisis manager of Premier Foods said the factory is likely to be closed for some time while the extent of the damage is determined.

He said: "The fire was discovered at around 1.30am. Some attempt was made to bring it under control by our employees but the fire brigade was subsequently called. The site was evacuated and no one was injured.

"The fire has effected the passageway in the centre of the factory that links the two production areas."

The factory, which employs 200 people, produces pickles and sauces.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter