Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes today (Wed) after a huge factory blaze sent flames and smoke billowing 60ft into the air.
Residents heard a loud explosion shortly before the fire engulfed a factory which makes cleaning products at 9am.
Around 70 firefighters dashed to Global Hygiene LLP on the Astonfield’s Industrial Estate on Drummond Road, Stafford.
Police also evacuated all properties within 50 metres of the factory and put an exclusion zone in place and closed nearby roads.
One man was injured and treated by paramedics for minor injuries.
Kelvin Westwood, who works at Wood Ways Technology, said: “I work 50 yards away from Global Hygiene. The boss came into the workshop at 9am and told us about the smoke and flames.”
Simon Reynolds, branch manager at nearby Lockwood Electrical, said: “There was a small fire to begin with and then within ten minutes it was huge. The speed at which it went up was shocking.”
A number of onlookers said they had heard rumours an employee had switched an appliance on and that had triggered an explosion.
Resident John Nash, 51, said: “I heard a bang or explosion and the next thing I knew there were fire engines racing down here. I’ve never seen a fire like this since for some time.”
Local Julie Gill, added: “I saw all the smoke and came to see what was going on. I heard the fire started in a warehouse.”
Ray Neil, who lives nearby, added: “At first I thought there was a massive great rain cloud, then I saw that it was smoke and couldn’t believe how much of it there was. I’ve never seen something like this before.”
Taxi driver John Clough, 34, added: “It was like something out of a movie. At first I thought a plane had crashed. The flames and smoke must have been at least 60ft high.
“I just hope no one has been hurt. I had to turn back after the police blocked the roads nearby.
“I was hundreds of yards away from the factory but I could feel the heat from there. It’ll be a miracle if no one is seriously hurt.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has yet confirm how the blaze began but there were concerns about oil in the vicinity.
At least 14 crews have been tackling the fire, including four from West Midlands.
A Staffordshire Police spokesperson said: “Premises and houses within a 50 metre radius of the blaze have been evacuated as a safety precaution.
“Residents and businesses are asked to keep doors and windows closed. Emergency services are working together to bring the situation under control as swiftly as possible.”
Rob Barber, of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Due to the significant amount of smoke that is billowing from the building, I would strongly advise residents to keep their windows and doors closed.”