PHOTOS: Fire fighters battle large blaze at Chivenor car compound
PUBLISHED: 11:51 23 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:35 25 November 2013
Police are treating the fire, which saw residents evacuated and more than 25 cars destroyed, as arson.
AROUND 40 vehicles were involved in a large fire which started in Chivenor Business Park in the early hours of this morning (Sat).
The fire, which has destroyed 14 cars and 19 minibuses at Chivenor Trade Centre, is being treated as arson.
A number of residents were evacuated to a nearby chapel in marine barracks due to a gas main involved in the thick of the fire.
The large blaze began among the hire vans and cars, with another smaller fire in a van on the other side of the compound next to the café.
Neil Blackburn, group commander for the fire service, told the Gazette at the scene it had taken around 35 fire fighters to stop the blaze.
“Our main concern was the governor gas assembly,” he said.
“We had to keep this burning because otherwise it could have caused a gas cloud which would have been a lot more dangerous.”
The fire service received several calls reporting the blaze at the vehicle compound, and sent crews from Barnstaple and Braunton.
On arrival at 4am, crews requested back up from Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, a water bowser and an incident command unit.
By 4.30am, it was confirmed around 25 per cent of the vehicles were well alight. Wales and West Utilities attended to isolate the gas supply and crews fought the flames wearing breathing apparatus.
By 5am, the amount of breathing apparatus wearers were increased at the scene and crews had to use a nearby hydrant for water and call for a foam systems appliance from Appledore.
There were two separate seats of fire in the compound and at 5.30am, crews withdrew from the site while further inspection of the gas main took place.
By 5.50am, the small seat of fire was extinguished but the fire had escalated on the main side. Crews used breathing apparatus wearers to combat the flames and the fire was extinguished at 7.30am.
Police investigating the fire have carried out house-to-house enquiries and investigations into the fire, which is thought to have been started between 2am and 4am.
A police spokesman said: “We are keen to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual, particularly along the Tarka Trail between the Braunton Inn and Chivenor roundabout, in the early hours of the morning to contact police.
“We are also keen to speak to anyone who may have been working at the nearby Chivenor Business Park and may have been starting or finishing a shift there to call police with any information.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting reference 148 of November 23, 2013.
To see more photos click the gallery on the right of the page. Did you see the blaze? Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.