Raging inferno causes warehouse to collapse in Etruria
AN INVESTIGATION was today being carried out after a major fire ripped through a warehouse causing it to collapse.
Around 60 firefighters tackled the blaze at the former Tywfords factories, in Garner Street, Etruria, well into the night.
Crews remained at the scene until this morning as the flames and thick black smoke spread across the site – threatening the sprawling Twyfords House building.
The fire started at about 4.30pm sparking a series of loud explosions and causing debris and charred remains to blow into residential areas and over the carrigeway to Festival Park – causing hazardous driving conditions.
The blaze is believed to have destroyed offices, storage space, trailers and forklift trucks. At its peak, flames could be spotted from homes in Etruria and Cliffe Vale and police were forced to close Garner Street and Etruscan Street to traffic.
Mark Williams, group commander for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, said last night the cause of the blaze was unknown.
He added: "The building in the centre of the site was steel-framed and collapsed.
"One of the problems was the water pressure in the area and therefore we have used a high volume pump to take water directly from the nearby canal."
Police officers at the scene had to field enquiries from a number of concerned business owners, who have property at the site.
Office space is rented in Twyfords House and tenants now facing an agonising wait to find out if the building has been able to withstand the ferocity of the blaze.
Mr Williams added: "Crews withdrew as there was a concern at one stage that it could collapse but it appears to be a well-built building."
Derek Adams, general manager at T&C Site Services Ltd., next to the site, said: "There was smoke just pouring out and then came the explosions.
"Thankfully, our business is unaffected but we stayed late to make sure. There was a lot of smoke coming from the main building and I know there was concern it could collapse."
Residents living nearby described their shock at seeing the inferno and hearing several explosions.
Leslie Silvester, aged 52, of Cavour Street, Etruria, said: "This is the biggest fire I have ever known. I just hope that all the firefighters dealing with it stay safe.
"I heard some loud bangs and came outside to see what was going on.
"There were massive embers floating over and landing in the road.
"The flames were really high. It was a raging inferno."
Husband Geoff, aged 58, added: "At one stage this area was just thick with black smoke."
Dave Walsh, aged 34, also of Cavour Street, said: "We could smell something and the kids thought I was burning a cake in the oven. I have never known a fire like this before."
Mohammed Shakil, aged 36, of Ladysmith Road, Etruria, said: "I saw a massive plume of smoke and you could just hear these great explosions."
Patrick Sharkey, aged 26, of Brick Kiln Lane in Cliffe Vale, said: "About six weeks ago there was a bit of fire at the factory and we were told we might need to evacuate but nothing happened. I have never seen anything like it."
Fire crews from Hanley, Longton, Newcastle, Sandyford, Ashley, Leek, Ipstones, Cheadle, Blurton, Stafford and Rugeley were involved in tackling the blaze.