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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 11:24 GMT
Van fire forces homes evacuation
Sherborne St John, near Basingstoke
Green Goddesses hose down the van and its cargo
About 150 people have been moved from their homes after a van loaded with cylinders of explosive gas caught fire at Sherborne St John, near Basingstoke, Hampshire.

A 200-metre exclusion zone has been established and Spring Close has been closed.

The cylinders contain compressed oxygen, nitrogen and oxy-acetylene.

Two Royal Navy Green Goddess fire engines and Hampshire Police were called out at 0445 GMT.

'Get out'

Residents were taken to the village hall. They have been told to stay away from their homes for 24 hours.

Andrew Alexander was moved from his home in Spring Close, along with his wife.

He said: "We were woken up at about 0520 GMT by local police and told we were all being evacuated.

"It was 'get out and get out now'. We just grabbed some clothes and got out the door."

Under Home Office guidlines, oxy-acetylene must be cooled down for at least 24 hours after such an incident.

Overnight accomodation

Hampshire Police say the earliest residents will be able to return to their homes is 0600 GMT Thursday.

Mr Alexander said: "Everyone is on their phones calling work saying they won't be in.

"Only a few people have been able to get to their cars so they can go and see friends until this is over."

Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are working to find the evacuees overnight accomodation.

Hampshire Police say there have been no injuries.


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27 Nov 02 | Scotland
27 Nov 02 | Politics
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27 Nov 02 | England
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