PBCC RRT Responds to Banbury Warehouse Fire
A large fire broke out on an industrial estate in Banbury Friday 6th December
Fire crews were called to the Beaumont Industrial Estate in Banbury, Oxfordshire, at 20.00hrs, to a large-scale blaze at a cash-and-carry store, which had spread to a neighbouring plant and tool hire business.
The Banbury Rapid Relief Team (RRT) became aware of the incident at 20.30hrs, which had occurred at Oak Cash and Carry on the industrial estate. After establishing that a large number of units would be attending due to the extent of the blaze, the RRT was mobilised and quickly constructed a base nearby within the premises of Orn Clothing; a Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) member’s business at around 21.00hrs.
The emergency services erected a 200-metre cordon to protect the public from the impact of the fire. There was an additional threat of ignition of up to 200 gas canisters which were located at the adjacent Gem Tool Hire premises. The tool hire company had also caught alight as the fire spread perilously.
The emergency services said that refreshments would be required as the number of workers on-site grew. Local supermarkets, Morrisons and Tesco, donated food and snacks. By 22.00hrs, hot drinks and food were readily distributed to the working crews. The steady stream of crew members using the refreshment tables increased as the number of fire appliances rose to 15, with the addition of two specialist firefighting units. Morrisons gave overnight contact details for further food donations and late on Saturday evening, the RRT collected extra supplies as hungry firefighters and police officers made full use of the food and beverages provided.
Refreshments were delivered to the special incident room, where the fire operation was being directed, and also to additional crews based at the nearby retail park as well as to police officers who were manning the road blocks. All were received with much gratitude. A firefighter stated: “You don’t know how much it means to us to have something warm in our tummies.” Another commented with surprise: “In all my years I have never seen a spread like this!”
By 03.00hrs, a barbecue was underway in the RRT base and bacon rolls were prepared for the weary fire crew’s breakfast. As dawn arrived, the new light showed extensive damage to the cash-and-carry store as well as Gem Tool Hire, which had suffered significant damage to its roof.
Speaking at the site Saturday morning, Banbury firefighter Chris Wilson, said: “We have now confirmed that there were no acetylene cylinders involved in the fire, which means we can now get closer to the building and make a more aggressive attack on what remains of the fire.
“We are also happy no one else was involved and no people were missing. We are now going to work on assessing how much damage has been done and what caused the fire.”
At the height of the blaze, which could be seen from up to around eight miles away from Banbury, Junction 11 of the M40 was briefly closed.
The RRT remained in attendance, providing support throughout Saturday, with the final shift ending at 23.15hrs. By this time, the number of appliances had reduced to just two.
One police officer commented: “This was going to turn out a really drab Saturday for me, sitting here on duty. This has made day…you’re my friends for life!”
And a fire-fighter captured the PBCC’s ethos and efforts in a sentence, stating: “Charity – the cornerstone of a good society.”