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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Major blaze at chemical factory
Fire at Aztec Chemicals in Crewe. Picture by Dean Feasby
The smoke could be seen for miles around. Picture by Dean Feasby

People have been warned to stay indoors after a massive fire broke out at a chemical works in Crewe.

Cheshire Fire Service is treating the blaze at two buildings owned by Aztec Chemicals on Crewe Gates Industrial Estate as a major incident.

Eighty five firefighters are tackling the fire and businesses and factories within 400 metres have been evacuated.

There are no reports of injuries. The company believes the fire began in a machine which shreds aerosol cans.

Seventeen fire engines, six special appliances, a hazardous materials unit, an aerial applicance and a foam tanker are at the scene.

Aztec Chemicals spokesman Karl Chadwick said: "If you looked at the fire about 10 minutes after it started, anybody who was in there would have no chance.

"But we got everybody out very quickly and as far as we know nobody in the surrounding area has been injured."

'Like a tornado'

Eye witnesses have reported hearing popping sounds from the plant and police have advised people to stay indoors and close all doors and windows.

As we know nobody in the surrounding area has been injured at all
Karl Chadwick, Aztec Chemicals

Hugh Wilson, who is a student at the nearby South Cheshire College, said: "We saw a huge amount of smoke going up into the sky and that was when we were about three miles away from where we are now.

"When we were getting close it was like a tornado, it was just twisting, there was just so much smoke.

"It's just absolutely huge. I can't explain the smell but it's not very nice when you get close up."

Resident Kevin Jones said: "There's been a horrendous amount of banging and popping - canisters or whatever have been exploding - it sounded like a firework display, it was that loud."

Initially a 200m exclusion zone was imposed, but this was extended to 400m because of the volume of smoke.

'Find shelter indoors'

A Cheshire Fire Service spokeswoman said: "We are concentrating on cooling a number of gas cylinders close to the buildings and fighting the fire."

Cheshire Police said the evacuated properties were industrial and business premises and did not include homes or schools.

Parents were asked to pick up their children from local schools as normal.

A spokesman added: "Outside the exclusion zone, the advice for people walking into the path of the smoke from the fire is to find shelter indoors and keep windows and doors closed."

Motorists have been advised to avoid roads in the area and Crewe town centre as congestion builds from the diversions in place.

The roads closed are the A5020 at the junction with the A500, the A534 at the Crewe Green roundabout - which carries traffic towards Crewe railway station - Macon Way at the junction with Hungerford Road and Nantwich Road at the junction with Millfield Street.

British Transport Police said the train timetable had not been affected and trains were still moving.

The fire started at a chemicals factory

Chemical fire rocks town
04 Jun 07 |  England

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