Fire investigators were today continuing their probe into a huge blaze which destroyed a plastics factory near Preston.
Sixty firefighters battled for almost five hours to bring the flames under control at Total Polyfilm Ltd on the Walton Summit Industrial Estate.
Residents in the Bamber Bridge area were warned to keep their windows and doors closed as a large cloud of thick black smoke hung over the site. The factory’s night shift of around 30 workers was evacuated when smoke was first spotted in the maintenance department shortly before 3am.
It took crews with 10 fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms until breakfast-time to extinguish the fire.
Later the firefighters were praised for the way they prevented it spreading to nine raw material silos adjacent to the factory in Seedlee Road.
Incident commander Jerry Cragg said: “Without the efforts, skill and professionalism of firefighters from across the county this could have been an even worse incident.
“Had it managed to spread to those silos and a taller building next door we would have had another huge fire to deal with.
“It spread so rapidly that it was like a forest fire sweeping through the building.”
Roads leading to the industrial park were closed by police and staff arriving for work at other companies nearby were advised to stay away until the scene was made safe.
The incident commander added: “We lost one factory and the last thing we wanted was for other businesses to be badly affected. The advice to keep windows and doors shut was because the smoke was just hanging in the air and wasn’t dispersing.”
Had it managed to spread to those silos and a taller building next door we would have had another huge fire to deal with.Incident commander Jerry Cragg
Brigade area manager Simon Fryer said: “When we first arrived the fire was quite small and developing. But, due to the fuel inside the building, it escalated very, very quickly.
“At this time we don’t know exactly what the cause is, but we are undertaking a full fire investigation.”
Total Polyfilm, based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, manufactures polythene plastic products and bags.
A spokesman for the company was unavailable for comment.