Explosion Risk Evacuates Andover Businesses

21 June 2010, 10:40 | Updated: 21 June 2010, 11:24

Part of Andover has been evacuated as crews deal with potentially explosive gases after a fire.

Hampshire Fire Crews were called to the blaze at a warehouse on Greenwich Way at 03:30 this morning.

At its peak, 50 firefighters from across North Hampshire as well as Berkshire and Wiltshire were dealing with the flames using specialist equipment including the Aerial Ladder Platform and Command Support Unit from Basingstoke Fire Station.

Around 50% of the building, which is used as a warehouse and offices was involved in the fire, and half of its roof has collapsed.

Group Manager Kevin Evenett, Officer in Charge of the incident said:

“Crews were quickly in attendance at the incident and due to their rapid and professional actions they were able to prevent the fire escalating and spreading throughout the building.”  

Acetylene cylinders have now been found inside the building so an exclusion zone of 200 metres has been put in place and measures are being taken to reduce the risk of the cylinders exploding.

Greenwich Way and several businesses in the area have been evacuated.

Andover Warehouse FireAndover Warehouse Fire

Farnborough based defence company, QinetiQ, are providing a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to enter the building in order to assess the acetylene cylinders. 

Why is Acetylene dangerous?

Acetylene presents a unique risk, in comparison to all other bottled gases, due to its instability. Heating or mechanical shock can cause the acetylene to heat up and possibly explode. This can put the public and firefighters at immediate risk and lead to massive consequential disruption and financial loss in the public and private sector.

The risk of explosion can remain for up to 24 hours, unlike all other gases which are safe once the initial fire has been extinguished and the cylinder is cooled. In the past, whole acetylene cylinders and fragments have travelled nearly 200m following an explosion.