Page last updated at 20:50 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 21:50 UK

Explosion rocks Bath city centre

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There are no reports of casualties at present

There has been an explosion on the construction site of a new shopping development in Bath city centre.

A gas canister exploded shooting flames and black smoke into the air. There are no reports of any injuries at present.

Eyewitnesses spoke of seeing flames and smoke billowing from the site near Henry Street, by Marks and Spencer.

A spokesman for Avon Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was put out at about 1800 BST but they would stay at the scene to cool remaining canisters.

Spokesman James Bladon said: "The fire is now out and we are cooling the cylinders to make sure there is no risk as result of further explosions."

Five fire engines and a turntable appliance remained at the scene.

The explosion scene picture - Karl Tall

The fire was on the third floor of the three storey building.

One eyewitness said: "I saw black smoke and we heard a few bangs and a series of fairly large explosions."

Shops and offices in two streets next to the SouthGate development were evacuated.

Avon and Somerset police spokeswoman Jenny Bigwood said: "Officers were called just after 5pm today to a report of a fire at the SouthGate building site.

"The area has been cordoned off at the request of the fire and rescue service as there are believed to be a number of gas cylinders on the site."

At 2130 BST the cordon was down to 150m around the complex. This is due to be reviewed at 0700 BST on Wednesday.

A spokesperson from Multi Development UK Ltd said that an "incident" had occurred on site "whereby a fire was started during asphalting operations in Block B."

The 360m development had its topping-out ceremony last week and it was hoped the first shops would open in early 2009.

Bath Spa railway station closed after the explosion but has since reopened, though some station entrances were not accessible.

Commuters with vehicles at the station were being warned they may not be able to get their cars out - which could be the case for much of Tuesday.

A rest centre has been set up in the Pavilion next to the leisure centre in North Parade Road for those unable to get home.


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