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Residents return after explosion fears

PUBLISHED: 10:39 23 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

ARSONISTS could have been responsible for a fire which saw around 300 homes evacuated because of fears of an explosion.

Residents of Nacton Road are back at home today after being told to leave their homes yesterday afternoon because fire had broken out in a garage containing gas cannisters.

ARSONISTS could have been responsible for a fire which saw around 300 homes evacuated because of fears of an explosion.

Residents of Nacton Road are back at home today after being told to leave their homes yesterday afternoon because fire had broken out in a garage containing gas cannisters.

Three cannisters, one containing acetylene gas and two with oxygen were found in the building.

Nacton Road, Queensway and Ransome Road had to be cordoned off as part of a 200-metre exclusion zone around the fire, which had started at the back of an former furniture shop.

Pupils from Murrayfield School were also evacuated and taken to playing fields where their parents could pick them up from.

Suffolk Fire Service divisional officer Peter Ludford said the blast if the cannisters exploded could be potentially fatal.

He said: "The cannisters can get particularly volatile when exposed to heat and could remain unstable for up to 24 hours.

"If they did explode the blast could be tremendous. For anyone within a 50 foot radius, if it went off it could be serious or even fatal and the shrapnel could go even further."

Emergency measures were set up at Gainsborough Sports Centre for evacuated residents to go to.

There were fears that it could be up to 24 hours before it was safe for people to return home.

But around 6pm the all clear was given and residents could spend the night in the comfort of their homes.

Claire Balaam, 34 whose mother Linda Moyes lives above the Julie Dawn hairdressing salon said that a policeman knocked on the door yesterday afternoon and asked them to get out.

She said: "I could not even get the car so we had to walk to my house in Ransome Crescent.

"It was quite a way for my mum because she is not that well.

"It was a bit of a nightmare and it was quite frightening."

Chief Insp Chris Mayhew, who led the operation, said: "We would like to thank the public for their co-operation with the evacuation. We realise that it caused a great deal of inconvenience to a large number of people, but it was necessary."

The fire is being treated as suspicious, and the scene will be protected until scenes of crime officers examine it.

Anyone with any information should call Ipswich police on 01473 613500.


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