FEARS of an explosion triggered a mass evacuation from a flour mill after machinery caught fire.
Dramatic scenes unfolded as more than 50 firefighters battled the blaze on the fourth floor of 13-storey Chancelot Mill, in Western Harbour, for more than two hours.
The fire was treated as a major operation due to the risk of a blast and nine crews were called to the scene just after 10am yesterday. The mill was evacuated and production halted as 40 workers were told to leave the site.
No-one was injured during the incident.
Incident commander Alan Horberry said: “Our crews arrived to find a fire within the fourth floor of the 13-storey flour-milling building and immediately requested additional resources.
“Around 50 firefighters worked to tackle the fire which was in flour milling machinery.
“The hot and smoky conditions which crews were working in were exacerbated by the dust from the flour milling process.”
An investigation is under way to establish the cause of the fire, but it is not believed to be suspicious.
Residents were stunned by the arrival of so many fire engines in their quiet neighbourhood.
Neighbour Julie Cairns, 41, of Lindsay Road, said: “I was dropping my daughter off at nursery school when I saw all these fire engines racing past.
“I couldn’t see any smoke but I could smell this weird burning smell.
“There was lots of activity around and they cordoned off the front of the building.”
A spokesperson for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which owns Chancelot Mill, said: “ADM is committed to ensuring the safety of our employees, our communities and the environment.
“Production was temporarily halted to allow personnel to evacuate but resumed once the all-clear was given by the fire department.”
The Chancelot Mill building was erected in the 1970s, when the business moved from its original site in Bonnington.