The huge fire which destroyed a large part of a Lancashire business park was the biggest in the county this decade, fire chiefs have revealed.
More than 150 firefighters battled the blaze at the Lancashire Enterprise Business Park which destroyed at least five units and devastated an area the same size as three full sized football pitches.
It was still on fire on Thursday afternoon but crews have managed to contain it.
H Parkinson Haulage and a Bowker’s storage unit has been razed to the ground, along with three other unnamed buildings.
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire said it was the biggest building fire the service had dealt with for 10 years. Only moorland fires in recent years required a greater number of firefighters.
Staff arriving on Thursday morning at the business park in the aftermath of the huge fire have described the site as “like a warzone.”
It is believed five buildings have been destroyed but firefighters are not yet sure if there is a sixth building which has been affected.
On Thursday morning, one staff member from Correct Gauge and Tool Services, based on the business park, said: “The fire started in the old Albion building. All that has gone. Obviously it just got out of control.
“It has cleaned most of that site out and done a lot of smoke damage to some office blocks.
“It was intense. It was about 200 yards away from us but the wind was quite strong so it was carrying everything the opposite way to us.
“At the gatehouse and security you would not known anything had gone on but look at the other side and it is like a warzone. There is nothing left.”
The crews which include eight fire engines, an aerial ladder platform, a mobile fire station and a high volume pump, were concentrating on an industrial unit which houses a number of businesses including Bowker’s.
Amazingly, no-one has been injured but the West Coast Mainline was closed during the night after concerns beer barrels were exploding and flying out from the inferno.
A police spokesman said Centurion Way and Wheelton Lane, Leyland, remained closed at 9am on Thursday but people could access some of the businesses on foot.
John Hampson, crew manager at Preston fire station who attended the blaze, said: “It was a big fire, we got reasonably close so we could put water on the fire.
“It was a big fire buy nothing out of the ordinary on respect that we occasionally get ones like this.”
Police evacuated much of the business park and many of the businesses and offices in the area, including Jubilee House NHS Central Lancashire, were closed today.
Leyland Leisure Centre was put on alert to take in residents from up to 80 homes within the vicinity of the blaze.
Police have advised people to stay indoors with their windows and doors closed due to the threat of smoke. A police helicopter is also circling overhead.
Rail services have also been suspended.
The NHS Central Lancashire headquarters is on the site but is believed not to be damaged by the fire. It will be completely shut on Thursday.
Staff are advised to go to other PCT offices if practical, such as Ormskirk PCT HQ, Preston Business Centre, Walshaw House in Nelson or NHS North Lancashire, while arrangements are made for staff to work remotely.
Updates will be posted on the PCT website.
An NHS Central Lancashire spokeswoman said: “We have a series of contingency and emergency plans in place for events such as this.
“We have IT systems in place for staff to work remotely from home or other NHS buildings if necessary and our emergency planning team is working to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.”
On Thursday morning a number of businesses, including Progress Plus and Progress Housing and Correct Gauge and Tool Services confirmed they were open as normal.
THANKYOU TO EVERYONE WHO SENT PICTURES AND VIDEO FROM THE FIRE.
PLEASE SEE THE GALLERY on lep.co.uk AND ALSO SEE THE EVENING POST ON THURSDAY FOR A THREE-PAGE SPECIAL PLUS ON FRIDAY FOR SIX PAGES OF PICTURES AND REACTION.
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Weather for Preston
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west