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More than 30 people had to be evacuated at the weekend after a fire broke out at a scrapyard containing acetylene cylinders.
Hampshire firefighters were called to the scrapyard in Whiteley Lane, Fareham at 01:06am on Saturday, 18 September.
They arrived to find a well developed fire affecting an area measuring roughly 40m x 60m containing around 100 vehicles – many of which were involved in the fire.
Officer in charge of the incident, Group Manager Tony Deacon, said:
“Firefighters arriving at the scene were faced with a well developed fire and thick smoke which was dangerously close to affecting a neighbouring residential property. There were also a number of explosions from fuel tanks and cylinders.
“Firefighters quickly identified at least two acetylene cylinders and removed them from the scene. Acetylene cylinders are extremely dangerous and an explosion would effect a large area.”
A fire involving acetylene cylinders causes major disruption and the risk of explosion remains for up to 24 hours, unlike all other gases which are safe once the initial fire has been extinguished. Because of the explosion risk an exclusion zone of up to 200 metres radius will be set up around the incident every time these cylinders are in danger of exploding at a fire.
Residents of the nearby Tynefield Caravan Park had to be evacuated and were removed to a local community centre.
This was due primarily to a large number of cylinders involved in the fire, many of which were exploding.
They've since been allowed back to the caravan park, but a small area near to the scrapyard is still closed off to the public while police try to find out what happened.
Chief Inspector Will Schofield said:
"We are treating the fire as suspicious and are appealing for anyone with information or who saw anything suspicous or out of the ordinary in the area at the time.
The fire started in the scrapyard and we believe the source was a vehicle which may have been driven onto the site.
The scene remains closed currently to allow us to carry out our investigation but we are trying to get it open as soon as possible to allow people living in the caravan park to return to their homes.
This fire has caused some disruption to the area so it is important we find out what caused it"
Officers now think a vehicle driven onto the site could have been the cause of the fire, and they're still treating it as suspicious.
Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111