Firecrews Remain At Scene Of Ocado Warehouse Fire
7 February 2019, 15:30 | Updated: 7 February 2019, 15:35
Ocado has apologised to those affected by a major fire at its Hampshire warehouse after nearby homes were evacuated amid a blaze firefighters are still tackling.
The Walworth industrial estate in Andover and the surrounding area was cleared on Wednesday evening by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service due to the risk of toxins being released or large pressurised cylinders exploding.
Ocado said on Thursday morning that the removal of these materials is now complete and major incident status and the evacuation order has been removed.
Local residents and workers are now able to access the affected area as normal.
The online grocery giant said: "We apologise to all those affected by this incident and are very thankful to the people of Andover for their understanding and support during this difficult period."
The firm paid for hotel rooms for those who had to leave their homes during the night and sent its distinctive Ocado vans packed with food, drink, nappies and other essentials to Andover to help.
The fire brigade continues to tackle the blaze and is expected to remain on site for at least the next few days.
Ocado said: "As previously announced, there has been substantial damage to the Andover building and its contents.
"Ocado is working hard to minimise disruption for customers by increasing capacity at other facilities. Ocado is grateful for the patience and understanding of customers during this period."
Around 200 firefighters were initially drafted in to tackle the blaze, which broke out at 2.44am on Tuesday and spread.
On Wednesday evening the fire service said properties would be evacuated overnight within a 500-metre exclusion zone and a 1.6km stretch based on wind direction.
A rest centre was set up at Harrow Way Community School, and around 20 families sought refuge there.
Conservative MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse posted on Facebook on Wednesday: "The fire has come and gone during the day, flaring up at times, and I understand it has recently receded, however I would urge people nearby to check online for advice.
"This is obviously a terrible event and thankfully no one has been hurt, although some firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation."
Ocado has said the fire started in a corner of the grid of groceries above which its robots assemble orders.
Part of the roof collapsed, but the firm confirmed no members of the Ocado team or the public were injured.
One local resident tweeted during the blaze: "Just streets away - the noise, heat, smell and light pouring from the Ocado warehouse is frighteningly real.
"120+ firefighters are risking their lives tackling the blaze. Makes you truly appreciate the brave men and women of the Fire Service!! Thank you. Stay safe."
Ocado stressed it had comprehensive insurance for the property, stock and equipment and for business interruption losses.
The online grocer's shares were down 7% on Thursday after it said it would see a fall in sales growth until it can shift operations to other warehouses.
Its hi-tech robotic warehouse provides around 10% of Ocado's warehouse capacity, processing more than 30,000 orders a week.