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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Blaze forces closure of main road in north Cumbria

A fire in an acetylene cylinder forced the closure of a main road and the evacuation of five businesses.

Johnny McKnight, an employee at Robert Little Garages, at Harker, north of Carlisle, was using cutting equipment when the hose feeding it burst into flames yesterday.

He said: “I lit the blow torch and the whole thing went up. We don’t know why because they are brand new hoses.”

The five staff left the premises and called the emergency services who were on the scene within minutes. Police closed the A7 just after midday, diverting traffic along side roads. They were concerned that the cylinder might explode. It reopened around 4pm.

As a precaution officers evacuated four nearby businesses – Carlisle Caravan Centre, the Bay Tree Cafe, Carlisle Window Systems and Reiver Lodges.

Station manager Craig Drinkald, of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have set up a 200-metre exclusion zone because acetylene has the potential to cause quite a huge explosion.

“We are getting water on to cool the cylinder as quickly as possible.”

Three appliances attended but only firefighters in full protective clothing were allowed to approach up to 25 metres from the cylinder.

Businesses were left counting the cost of lost trade.

Colin Carr, sales manager at Carlisle Caravan Centre, said: “It will cost us money, obviously. We were told that it was likely to be several hours before we could go back, so we sent the staff home.”

Meanwhile, firefighters dealt with a fire at a terraced house in Holmes Avenue, Upperby, Carlisle, yesterday afternoon. Nobody was in the property at the time.

The fire started behind the front door. Police are treating it as arson.

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