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Dowty Propellers warehouse destroyed in blaze

Firefighters evacuated a total of 29 people from a Gloucestershire warehouse which was destroyed in a huge blaze.

A fire broke out in the roof space at Dowty Propellers, Anson Business Park, at Staverton shortly after midnight.

A total of 80 firefighters from across the county tackled the blaze but remain on scene “damping down and scaling back operations”.

A Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “On arrival, local crews discovered a rapidly developing fire through the roof space in a building.

“Fire crews were able to surround the fire and prevent it spreading to the adjacent premises. Efforts were focused on the building’s fire separating walls and prevented the main office block from fire damage.

“A total of 29 staff members were safely evacuated from the building with no injuries.”

 A total of 14 fire engines, two aerial platforms, nine water jets and two water monitors were called to the blaze which damaged 80 per cent of the factory building, which measures 100m by 40m.

Gloucestershire’s chief fire officer Stewart Edgar has praised the crews which tackled the blaze in challenging conditions.

 He said: “Our firefighters have battled in sub-zero temperatures to deal with this major fire involving Dowty Propellers in Staverton.

“Firefighters from all over the county have been working tirelessly under my command and will be there for the foreseeable future.

“Rest assured, the fire is well under control. I need to thank my firefighters for their sterling efforts and we will now be focussing our efforts on identifying the cause of the fire.”

A total of 250 people work at the site designing, manufacturing and repairing aircraft propeller systems for military and commercial aircraft.

At around midnight, Gloucestershire Police warned people via social networking page Twitter that Cheltenham Road, near Dowty, was expected to be closed all night.

At just after 6am police sent out a note informing drivers the road was due to reopen at 7am.

John Beard, community safety officer with Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “This was a rapidly developing fire in the roof space which could be seen for miles around. We had several calls from members of the public.

“The whole of the roof space was alight on arrival. There were around 25 people there and it was quickly established that no one was inside the building. From there we progressed a defensive technique to try and save the offices. In the factory area the roof space was destroyed but due to the separation between the factory and the office block we were able to prevent significant damage to the office space.

“There are two other firms which can’t be accessed at the moment. We are trying to get access to all premises as soon as possible and we believe this will be around 12.30pm.

“Our crews have been working really hard in very cold temperatures and have done a fantastic job in limiting the damage and saving the offices and the surrounding buildings.

“This is a large incident for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and firefighters from all four corners of the county pulled together.

“Dowty is obviously a major employer in the area and we hope they will have the capacity to deploy workers elsewhere.”

Electrical contractor Clarkson Evans, which has a base on the Anson Business Park adjacent to Dowty Propellers, had to relocate 90 staff this morning.

“Our building is impossible to get to,” said Elaine Hodgins, of Clarkson Evans. “So we invoked out business continuity plan. Our finance team are working from home and our customer care team have been relocated to our training department on Meteor Business Park (towards Gloucester on the B4063).

“Our training lecturers who are already teaching have given up their desks to accommodate the customer care team so no customers will be affected.

“There has been a real spirit of ‘let’s get on with it. Let’s not make a drama out of crisis’.”

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