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7 November 2012, 06:14
40 people had to be evacuated from their homes following a fire, which has totally destroyed a wood yard and shop in Grays.
50 firefighters tackled the blaze at Grays Timber on Stanley Road last night (Tuesday November 6th).
The wood yard and shop, containing timber products, glues, resins and adhesives went up in a ball of smoke.
There are no casualties. The 12 families took shelter at a nearby library.
An investigation was carried out by the police and fire service and it has now been confirmed it was an accident.
Divisional Officer Vernon Kendall, who led the investigation, said: "The site was completely secure and there was no sign of a break in. On that basis Police scenes of crime were not needed at the site this morning as we have concluded the cause was accidental."
Incident commander Divisional Officer Greg Keys said: "Crews faced a real inferno when they arrived at the scene - the corner plot where the shop and yard stood was radiating heat and smoke with the contents of the yard fuelled by a whole range of flammable liquids.
"The first priority was to evacuate families as there was every possibility that the blaze was going to spread right through the terrace. While that was going on, the first crews went straight into the immense heat and smoke to do what they could to save the property and prevent spread.
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, there was nothing that could be done to protect the timber yard and shop but they worked hard to ensure the blaze did not spread beyond the first, adjoining terraced house. The top floor suffered as a result of radiated heat and the ground floor suffered heat damage and flooding."