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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 15:18 GMT
Fire sweeps through motorcycle plant
Hinckley factory
Triumph is the UK's largest domestic manufacturer
A serious fire has destroyed part of the Triumph motorcycle factory at Hinckley in Leicestershire.

At its height, more than 100 firefighters were tackling the blaze which started at the rear of the complex just before 2100 GMT on Friday.

Two crewmen were injured - one was taken to hospital - as firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went into the building.

One motorcycle campaign group spokesman said he was "in a state of shock" at the news.

John Bloor
John Bloor has overseen a revival in fortunes

Senior divisional officer Steve Vincent, of Leicestershire fire service, said: "Through the tremendous efforts of the crews we've managed to save 50% of the factory.

"But unfortunately the stores have been lost. We also managed to save the office block and the paintshop."

Paul Botterill, from Leicestershire Fire Service, said the incident was not brought under control until 0200 GMT, five hours after it started.

"At one stage there were 30 appliances at the scene, including communications vehicles, foam tenders and three aerial appliances," he said.

Staff fears

Crews pumped water to the scene from the nearby Ashby canal.

The plant's assembly area was destroyed in the fire and it is not yet known how severely this will affect production.

Four fire crews are still at the scene and expect to continue damping down over the weekend.

Some of the 650 workers employed at the plant have been gathering at the factory gates to wait anxiously for news of the extent of the damage.

It is understood staff have been told to turn up on Monday when they will hear from management.

One worker, who arrived to view the fire-ravaged factory, said: "I'm devastated. It looks as though a crucial part of the site has been involved in the fire."

Fortunes revived

Tony Sperry, a motorcycle engineer and the East Midlands regional representative of the Motorcycle Action Group, said he was "shocked" at the news.

"To be honest, I'm still trying to take it in. Triumph is such an important name in the industry and it brought prestige to the area because it's a worldwide marque."

Triumph, founded in 1902, is currently the largest British manufacturer of production motorcycles.

The company's waning fortunes were revived in the 1980s thanks to the ownership of builder John Bloor.

He took over the company in 1983 and supervised the move from the former Meriden site to the Hinckley factory in Jacknell Road, which produces 750 bikes a week.

The company recently announced it was considering moving production abroad.

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