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4 November 2010, 18:59 | Updated: 4 November 2010, 19:03
Fifty firefighters have been tackling a blaze at a Crawley factory at the Manor Royal industrial estate. This statement was issued at 6pm on Thursday
There are no reports of any injuries and the fire is now under control, but there has been some disruption to surrounding businesses from the issuing smoke.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was called to Alexir Packaging Ltd in Faraday Rd Crawley shortly after 9am this morning when a fire was reported in one of its printing machines. Staff had initially tried to tackle it with extinguishers but the fire quickly spread and when firefighters arrived on scene smoke was already issuing from the roof.
Additional crews were immediately requested including an aerial ladder platform so the fire could be tackled from above. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building to fight the fire and the premises were safely evacuated.
The blaze was fuelled by the volume of paper and packaging contained in the factory, creating clouds of smoke which circulated in a swirling wind. Police officers set up local road diversions and closed Faraday Rd.
Several surrounding businesses owners, who were concerned about the smoke circulating their premises, approached the Incident Commander point and a multi-agency meeting was held to reassure them that there was no health risk.
Emergency Services liaised with scientific advisors and environmental agency officers to confirm that the smoke was not toxic and advised neighbouring businesses they could safely stay in their buildings with windows and doors closed and air circulation systems switched off.
This was a protracted incident for firefighters and support and refreshments were provided by the Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service volunteers. Relief crews were deployed and an additional aerial ladder platform was provided by East Sussex.
The fire is still in progress and firefighters expect to remain on scene for much of the night. The factory has been badly damaged by the fire but West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has been working closely with managers and staff of Alexir Packaging to implement an emergency recovery plan.
The cordon around the firefighting operation has now been reduced and all roads have now been reopened.
People can expect to see a light amount of ash on vehicles in the area, this is a normal product of fire and can be simply washed off.