Homes in Clyst St Mary evacuated after barn fire sparks explosion fears

PUBLISHED: 11:35 13 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 10 June 2010

SEVERAL homes in Clyst St Mary had to be evacuated last night when fears were raised a number of gas cylinders engulfed by flames in a barn fire would explode.

SEVERAL homes in Clyst St Mary had to be evacuated last night when fears were raised a number of gas cylinders engulfed by flames in a barn fire would explode.

Firefighters from Topsham and Exeter were called to Axehayes Farm shortly after 5pm and set up a 200-metre exclusion zone when it was found the building where farm machinery and oxi acetylene cylinders were stored was on fire.

Residents living in neighbouring properties were evacuated for five hours.

Two Topsham crews and three Exeter crews immediately got to work, using ground monitors to cool the cylinders.

A specialist hazardous materials officer and fire investigation team were also on scene.

The firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used one main jet to tackle the blaze but the building was totally destroyed.

The police said the cause of the fire was not thought to be suspicious.

Exmouth fire station group commander Mike White said: "Acetylene is a real issue for us involved in putting out fire. It can be unpredictable. When the gas inside heats up it causes the cylinder to fail and it can explode like a rocket, potentially sending sharp shrapnel over a large area.


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