One missing in firework plant blaze

Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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One person is unaccounted for after a large blaze at a fireworks factory which saw two others taken to hospital.

Firefighters are searching the SP Fireworks premises in Tilcon Avenue, Stafford and police are due to begin an investigation into the cause of the fire later.

Dramatic footage showed thick plumes of smoke and dramatic bursts of fireworks exploding in all directions from the factory, a scene an eyewitness described as “horrendous”.

At the height of the blaze, which broke out shortly after 5pm yesterday, there were 50 firefighters, eight engines and four specialists appliances at the scene, Staffordshire Fire Service said.

West Midlands Ambulance Service sent four ambulances, the Hazardous Area Response Team, four emergency doctors, five paramedic officers and two rapid response vehicles to the scene.

Two men were taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, one aged in his 60s suffering from a back injury and another, aged in his 40s, with serious burns.

Two women, one aged in her 40s and the other in her 50s, were assessed for smoke inhalation but discharged at the scene, police said.

A safety cordon was thrown up around the site of the factory which had closed for the day by the time the fire broke out.

Group manager Tim Hyde of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service told ITV News that if the missing person was inside the main part of the building, things would not look positive for them.

Due to the size and severity of the blaze, no firefighters would have been able to carry out a successful rescue, he said last night.

He said: “There is a small area where if somebody is there and they have just fallen over and been knocked out, they would be able to survive. We are making access into that right now and we are going to search the area to confirm they are not in there.

“If they are there, we will rescue them and our ambulance colleagues will treat them immediately.”

Asked if things would look good for the missing person if they were trapped in that location, he said: “At this stage, no I’m afraid it doesn’t.”

Superintendent Jane Hewett, of Staffordshire Police, said: ” We’re working very closely with all the emergency services and we’re in a position now that we’re waiting for the fire brigade to let us know when we can move forward and try and establish how and why this fire has occurred.

“We are working really closely with colleagues as well to try and identify the numbers of individuals that may have been in the premises at the time.

“What I can say at this time is that we do have one person unaccounted for. We are working with their family. We will continue to make enquiries to try and establish their whereabouts.”

During the blaze o nlooker Mike Hillman said he was watching from Tixall Road, adding “massive fire, loads of smoke this way, hope everyone is OK”.

He tweeted: “Hoping everyone is OK over there, looks like it has spread down the whole row of units on that side of the estate.”

Christina Harrison told BBC News: “My friend said ‘Oh, something has fallen on my head’. It turned out to be ash falling on us.

“As we got closer the smoke got worse and worse. You could just hear explosions and fireworks going off.”

Resident Brian Little t old Sky News: “It was horrendous. You would not be surprised if there was one or two injuries. The flames were sky-high.

“It does seem to be under control now but for 45 minutes to an hour it was horrendous and you could not help but watch it.”

Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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