Safe storage stops gas blast at garage

Emergency services at the Chris Allen Ford dealership on Poulton Industrial Estate.
Emergency services at the Chris Allen Ford dealership on Poulton Industrial Estate.
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GARAGE bosses were today praised by fire chiefs after helping to prevent a gas explosion during a dramatic blaze.

Fire crews were called to Chris Allen Ford, on Poulton Industrial Estate, after a blaze broke out in the workshop at around 7.27pm on Tuesday – sparking the evacuation of a nearby gym.

Flames destroyed one vehicle and caused smoke damage to the workshop, storeroom and staff canteen were severely smoke damaged. The front office and showroom were also affected.

But a potential explosion of oxy-acetylene, a gas which is extremely prone to violent explosion when hot, was avoided due to proper storage by the garage.

It’s business as usual at the Aldon Road business today as a clean-up operation takes place while routine garage work was being carried out at Ford Fleetwood, on Amounderness Way.

Pauline Harding, one of the company’s directors, said: “I’m not at liberty to say much at the moment but I’m pleased to say there were no people involved.”

Fire crews have said early indications suggest the fire was not arson.

Police put an exclusion zone cordon in place, closing off parts of Aldon Road and Clark Street, off Garstang Road East, due to the oxy-acetylene cylinders needed for cutting and welding equipment.

John Taylor, spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: “Faced with a car on fire in a workshop firefighters were aware of the likelihood that there would be the oxy-acetylene cylinders which posed a risk of explosion.

“Acetylene is a gas that becomes very prone to violent explosion when hot.

“With those consequences in mind, the Incident Commander decided to assign two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus to make sure that there was indeed an oxy-acetylene set in the workshop and to establish where and how it was stored.

“Working their way through thick, black smoke they reported back the proprietor had followed the correct guidance for storage of cylinders and a wall and fire door had effectively shielded them from the heat of the fire.

“In Fire and Rescue Service terms, and for the owner of the premises and the local community too, it was a ‘Good Stop’.”

Mrs Harding added: “We’re very keen on things like good practice. As a company we’re extremely relieved.”

Staff and members at FX Leisure gym, off Premier Way, were asked to evacuate the gym at around 7.50pm.

Shaun Burford, 28, a gym user, said: “The smell of smoke was really strong but we couldn’t see any flames.”

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