Leamington Spa fire: Apocalyptic scenes as firefighters desperately search for missing person

Leamington Spa fire: Apocalyptic scenes as firefighters desperately search for missing person

Police say a person missing after a massive fire broke out at a factory in Leamington Spa is a worker at the site.

Emergency services are frantically searching for the worker after a fire broke out in Leamington Spa that was so vast it could be seen from space.

An explosion that locals said sounded “like bombs going off” was heard as the inferno erupted at Leeson Polyurethenes Ltd earlier this morning.

The Warwickshire company describes itself as the leading innovators and manufacturers of polyurethane adhesives and coatings.

Supt Mike Smith, of Warwickshire Police, said all but one person had been accounted for.

People within 500metres of the blaze were being warned to stay indoors as firefighters warned it could take days to be fully extinguished.

However the fire no longer represented a risk thanks to the major emergency response, authorities said.

The fire, which sent terrifying black clouds into the sky before debris crashed back to the ground, could be seen across the West Midlands on Friday.

Residents were warned to keep doors and windows closed while hundreds of properties were evacuated, along with a Covid testing mega-lab.

The “toxic smoke” is said to have made people sick in the streets.

Supt Smith told a media briefing on Friday evening: “At the moment there is one person unaccounted for.

“That person works at the premises where the fire was.”

“We do not know at this time what happened to that person.”

He added: “We know who that person is.

“We are working with the family of that person and they are being supported by specialist officers.”

Supt Smith said everyone within 100m of the fire had been evacuated, and emergency advice remained in place for everyone within 500m to remain indoors and close doors and windows.

Warwickshire Chief Fire Officer Barnaby Briggs told reporters the cause of the fire was still being investigated, Coventry Live reports.

CFO Briggs added: “The firm makes specialist adhesives and it is from polyurethane.

“There are a number of vats involved in that process.

“They have pressure release valves – as they heated up the pressure release valves went.”

CFO Briggs continued: “The fire is continuing. We are attacking it from upwind and gradually knocking down the flames.

Fire Leamington Spa tweet

“We don’t think there is a significant risk.

“It will take several hours to knock down the fire.

“I estimate it will take several days to put it out fully.”

One witness posted a photo of the pillars of smoke from 21 miles away in Birmingham.

Warwickshire Police say there is one person unaccounted for, and emergency services are working hard to find them.

In a statement posted onto their Facebook page, the force said: “Officers remain at the scene of the fire on Juno Drive in Leamington.

“One person currently remains unaccounted for, emergency services are working hard to locate them. “The building involved is Leeson Polyurethenes Ltd. Local businesses and houses have been evacuated.

“Road closures remain in place, please avoid the area. Further updates will be posted once available.”

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, have descended on an industrial premises in Juno Drive, Leamington.

Residents and businesses nearby have been urged by police to keep all windows and doors closed as firefighters deal with the incident.

Eyewitness Jonathan Peters says people were vomiting in the street due to the acrid smell.

He said: “There are huge plumes of smoke and the only way I could describe it is that it looks like a volcano eruption.

“I’ve seen and heard air ambulances arrive and leave the scene and I am hearing that there have been people being sick in the street.

“I can smell the fire and smoke, I’m not sure what building it is but we have been advised by Warwick police to close all doors and windows and not venture outside.

“I’ve been to briefly check as the kids are concerned and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

Paul Evans said: Leamington fire. Drove past and people have their heads in their hand and being sick etc. Air ambulance just arrived. Grim.”

Another eyewitness said she had seen debris falling from the sky.

Linda Price said: “I have seen huge plumes of black smoke, there is also debris falling from the explosions.

“It’s very loud as can be heard through the windows. The smoke has now turned very black and there are still explosions happening.

“I live approximately a quarter of a mile from where it is happening and it is very worrying.”

Authorities confirmed the fire has not struck the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory at the site, which is the latest lab to be added to the NHS Test and Trace system.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said staff at the lab had been evacuated as a precaution.

The huge plumes of smoke could be seen from space as clear weather and a high pressure system meant the cloud was being dispersed more slowly than it should, University of Reading atmospheric scientist Dr Claire Ryder said.

Burnt objects fall from sky after Leamington Spa fire

“This is exacerbated by the lingering, low concentrations of wildfire smoke higher up in the atmosphere over the UK, which have been transported by weather systems from North American wildfires,” she added.

The expert warned people should wear masks due to the hazard.

She said: “Smoke can contain hazardous particles of tiny sizes which can penetrate into the lungs and cause respiratory problems.

“The exact impact depends on their size and chemical composition. It would be advisable to stay away from the smoke altogether, or if not possible then keep windows and doors shut, and wear a mask outside to help filter out microscopic airborne particles which may linger in the air.”

MP for Warwick and Leamington Matt Western has expressed his deep shock and concern at the events that have unfolded.

He said: “Leamington has been shaken to its core by the serious fire in June Drive near Tachbrook Park Industrial Estate.

“The scale of the fire is staggering.”

He continued: “It is extremely worrying for our community and I am concerned for employees who were on site. I want to thank the emergency services for their professionalism and bravery – and residents for their adherence to guidance.

“It is very important to keep at least 70 metres away from the scene and please close doors and windows if you are near the area. Avoid breathing in any smoke and stay indoors.”

Lisa Perry was at Jephson Gardens with her young family and said it was like a scene out of a film.

“I’m at the park with my daughter and some friends when we saw this huge plume of smoke. It’s like something out of a disaster movie,” she said.

“You can taste the acrid smoke and smell it. It’s getting bigger and seems to be heading towards us. We can hear the emergency services and have heard the air ambulance.

“Definitely time to leave. We just hope everyone’s ok.”