Hunt continues for missing employee after huge plastics factory fire near Covid testing megalab as fire chiefs warn blaze – that is visible from space – could last for days
- Warwickshire Police continuing search for missing person after blaze at Leeson Polyurethanes, Leamington
- Residents reported multiple explosions and major fire in Juno Drive, Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire
- Shocking pictures showed apocalyptic-like scenes as huge plumes of black smoke tower over the town
- Roads remain closed and residents are advised to stay indoors as the emergency services tackle the blaze
Police are still searching for a missing person after explosions were reported and a major fire broke out in an industrial area in Leamington Spa.
Fire crews are still battling with the blaze on Saturday morning, which broke out at plastics manufacturer Leeson Polyurethanes Ltd in Juno Drive.
Shocking pictures showed apocalyptic-like scenes as huge plumes of black smoke turned the sky black with ash and could be seen towering for miles above the Warwickshire town on Friday morning.
Residents have today been warned not to attempt to touch or remove any of the falling toxic debris that has littered the air and surrounding area, as experts warn it could take days to fully extinguish the fire.
The Rosalind Franklin ‘megalab’ based in Juno Drive, Leamington, a destination for tens of thousands of national PCR tests, was evacuated as a precaution – as eyewitnesses report strong chemical-like smells in the area.
One person, who works at Leeson Polyurethanes where the blaze broke out, remains unaccounted for at present after local businesses, homeowners and anyone in the vicinity were moved on for their safety, per a Warwickshire Police spokesperson.
Residents have been evacuated after explosions were reported and a huge inferno broke out in Leamington Spa on Friday morning
Satellite images from the University of Reading show the huge Leamington Spa fire could be seen from space on Friday
The Rosalind Franklin Covid testing megalab (pictured right) is a short distance away from the fire which ripped through an industrial factory in Juno Drive, Leamington Spa
The sky was turned black with ash after an enormous industrial fire broke out at a timber warehouse in Juno Drive, Leamington Spa. Above: Firefighters desperately try and tackle the blaze
A large fire has broken out at an industrial premises in in Juno Drive, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire on Friday morning
Shocking pictures showed apocalyptic-like scenes as huge plumes of black smoke were seen towering over Leamington Spa
Several major roads are closed and residents are advised to stay indoors around Juno Drive, Leamington after the emergency services dashed to the scene to tackle the blaze
The inferno ripped through Leeson Polyurethanes Ltd according to Warwickshire Police, where a 100m evacuation radius has since been erected as 60 firefighters fought the blaze.
Eyewitnesses said they experienced ‘chemical smells’ amid reports of people being sick in the area, as Public Health West Midlands issued a health warning to locals.
Several major roads were closed and residents advised to stay indoors around Juno Drive after the emergency services dashed to the scene to tackle the blaze.
The emergency services spent the night tackling the fire as the hunt continues for the missing employee.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Supt Mike Smith, of Warwickshire Police, revealed road closures would remain in place and that the search for the unaccounted individual would continue.
He said: ‘As it stands at this moment in time there is one person unaccounted for. That person works at the premises where the fire was.
‘We do not know at this time what has happened to that person – we do believe all other persons are accounted for.’
A Warwickshire Police spokesperson added: ‘Emergency services remain at the scene of the large fire in Leamington Spa tonight.
‘We would like to reassure residents in surrounding areas that fallen debris will be removed today.
‘As a precautionary measure, please do not touch or attempt to clear debris in the meantime.’
The Rosalind Franklin Covid ‘mega lab’ in Juno Drive, Leamington Spa
Public Health West Midlands are also advising local residents to limit their time outdoors in the area as smoke and ash fill the air
The emergency services, including an air ambulance, have descended on the industrial building in Juno Drive, which houses a number of factories and a laboratory
Local Labour MP Matt Western warned the fire may involve chemicals from a plastics business unit in the industrial area
Businesses and homeowners were told to keep their doors and windows shut as a precaution, as a 100metre evacuation radius was enforced around the scene.
Local residents also said they heard a series of bangs in quick succession as small ‘explosions’ were reported throughout the morning.
Others were handed masks and told to keep them on for their safety, as debris, including black polystyrene, could be found in the air and on the ground.
Jan Butler, 52, explained: ‘I think the company involved hasn’t been open that long and its all industrial units around there.
‘But its still rather close to the town centre and I just hope everybody is okay because it looks absolutely devastating.
‘The smoke has just engulfed everything, people are having to leave their homes, it’s crazy really.
‘I’ve stayed well away but I have friends nearer who say there’s been a strong chemical-like smell coming from it as well.’
Resident Ben Coleman was working from home when he realised there was an odour and explosives sounds in the background.
He told the BBC: ‘There’s a bit of a smell. I heard small explosions, it was a few, like, pops.’
Warwickshire Police said properties within the vicinity of Juno Drive are being evacuated as 12 fire engines and two aerial appliances were rushed to tackle the blaze.
Warwickshire Police said properties within the vicinity of Juno Drive (pictured above) are being evacuated
Another anonymous witness, speaking to the Mirror, compared the jaw-dropping scene to something produced by a Hollywood blockbuster
Another anonymous witness, speaking to the Mirror, compared the jaw-dropping scene to something produced by a Hollywood blockbuster.
‘It’s like something out of a disaster movie,’ they said.
‘You can taste the acrid smoke and smell it. It’s getting bigger and seems to be heading towards us.
‘We can hear the emergency services and have heard the air ambulance.’
Residents said they were startled by a series of explosions which sounded ‘like bombs going off’ as the blaze broke out while others reported ‘strong chemical-like smells’.
Stephen Morris, 48, who lives in the town, said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. We were in the garden earlier and heard what sounded like a bomb go off.
‘It was like a loud pop. The next thing you know, there’s a massive cloud of black smoke rising into the sky, it was like something from that film Independence Day.
‘It’s just lingering over the entire town now and I’ve never known so much police and fire activity here, they must have sent every appliance they have to it.
‘I heard that people were getting sick as the smoke is toxic.
‘It’s quite frightening, I have a friend who lives 20 miles away and he said he could see it from down there.
‘He thought it was a cloud at first, it’s that big.
‘The scale of it is just enormous.’
The emergency services, including an air ambulance, descended on the industrial building in Juno Drive, which houses a number of factories and a laboratory.
Eyewitnesses say they are experiencing ‘chemical smells’ amid reports of people being sick in the area, as Public Health West Midlands issued a health warning to locals
The sky was turned black as a massive inferno tore through a plastics business unit on Friday morning
Chaos: The aerial view shows the scale of the fire as it quickly ripped through the entire warehouse in Juno Drive
Local Labour MP Matt Western said he has heard the fire may involve chemicals from a plastics business unit.
He said: ‘Massive fire on Tachbrook Ind Est.
‘Extremely serious. Hearing it may involve chemicals from plastics business unit. Please close windows and stay indoors. Will update as I hear more.’
Anyone living within 70 metres of the site are being urged to keep windows and doors closed.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it has two paramedic officers and a Hazardous Area Response Team at the scene.
The cause of the fire has not yet been made public, but it is understood to have broken out at an industrial premise approximately 50m by 30m.
Some people reported seeing plumes of smoke from as far as 30 miles away at the Silverstone race circuit in Towcester, Northamptonshire.
Video footage from the area showed black smoke as loud explosions can be heard going off in the distance above the town’s Gurdwara Sahib in the centre of Leamington Spa.
Eyewitnesses are reporting several people being sick in the aftermath as there are unconfirmed reports of the smoke being toxic.
Video footage from the area showed black smoke as loud explosions can be heard going off in the distance above the town’s Gurdwara Sahib in the centre of Leamington Spa
Eyewitnesses are reporting several people being sick in the aftermath as there are unconfirmed reports of the smoke being toxic
Emergency services respond to a large fire at an industrial premises in in Juno Drive, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Radio presenter Shehnaz Khan tweeted: ‘Massive fire in Leamington Spa at the moment. Been told the smoke is toxic – Shut your windows if you’re in the area!
‘This is currently the view from my back garden. Hope everyone is ok!’
Johnathan Branson tweeted: ‘Massive fire in Leamington! Hope everyone is ok.’
A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: ‘Emergency services are currently in attendance at a fire at a premises on Juno Drive, Leamington.
‘Road closures are currently in place. Please keep windows and doors closed.
‘Further updates will be posted when available.’
Public Health West Midlands are also advising local residents to limit their time outdoors in the area as smoke and ash fill the air.
They tweeted: ‘Substances in smoke can worsen health problems like asthma & heart conditions so people should carry their medication if near the fire in Leamington Spa.
‘Smoke can irritate airways/skin/eyes & cause coughing/wheezing breathlessness chest pain. Get medical advice if affected.’
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