Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 21:09 UK

Fireworks boss fined and banned

A reader's picture of the blaze
Avon Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was "pretty spectacular"

The owner of a Somerset fireworks warehouse which caught fire has been fined £300 and banned from being a company director.

Andrew Collins, from Yatton, admitted two health and safety offences and regulatory breaches. Clevedon-based Firemagic admitted three offences.

Bristol Crown Court was told the warehouse was full beyond the legal limit with fireworks in October 2006.

The blaze also gutted a nearby classic car restoration company and 15 cars.

'Explosive content'

The court was told live fireworks were not kept correctly in a safe storage area once they had been fused, leading them to go up in smoke when the blaze took hold.

The company also stored fireworks with explosive content which was way in excess of what their licence allowed them to store, resulting in North Somerset Council issuing a prohibition order on other units used by Firemagic shortly after the fire.

Collins accepted that health and safety could have been clearer and more formalised but argued there had been regular meetings with staff, who were largely volunteers, and assessments were carried out.

He was fined £150 for each offence and banned from being a company director for five years. He is currently unemployed.

Although no driving offences were committed he was also banned from driving for six months for each count to run concurrently as an additional punishment.

The company, which the court heard was now defunct and on the edge of bankruptcy, was fined a nominal £5,000 for each of the three counts, but Judge Julian Lambert admitted the state would "have to join the list of creditors" for the money.

Describing the scene at the time of the accident, an Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said some fireworks caught alight causing "an impromptu display", which lasted 40 minutes.

"It was pretty spectacular when we first got here," he added.

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