Ocado warehouse fire: Homes evacuated amid 'explosion risk'

EVACUATION Homes have been cleared after a massive fire at an Ocado warehouse

EVACUATION Homes have been cleared after a massive fire at an Ocado warehouse

On Wednesday evening the fire service said properties will be evacuated within a 500-metre exclusion zone and a 1.6km stretch based on wind direction.

"We are working extremely closely with all of our partners to keep the public safe".

Ocado said on Thursday morning that the removal of these materials is now complete and major incident status and the evacuation order has been removed.

A fire service spokeswoman said about 20 families were at a rest centre set up in Harrow Way Community School, Andover, after being evacuated from their homes.

"This building is not meant for humans to be interacting with the racking and the storage - it has robots moving racking on to loading bays, so for firefighters trying to get in that high and to make an effective fire-fighting strategy, it has been very hard", he said.

Neil Odin, chief fire officer at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters were forced to cut holes in the roof of the warehouse to tackle the blaze because it was not designed for humans to work in. No staff or members of the public were injured as a result of the blaze which was now under control, it added.

The delivery giant's share price climbed three per cent today, recovering some losses in the blue-chip firm's stock value after investors feared for the firm's future growth in the wake of the blaze, which has been raging since the early hours of Tuesday.

The fire service spokesman declined to comment on reports that the fire involved automated packaging machinery that used older technology than the advanced systems Ocado has developed. "Unfortunately the fire which started yesterday. was not contained as we believed, and last night expanded", Ocado said in a statement.

"As previously announced, there has been substantial damage to the Andover building and its contents".

Ocado packs and delivers more than 30,000 customer orders a week at the warehouse in Andover which is powered by robots.

Ocado shares have dropped 6% and the retailer has warned of a hit to sales.

The grocer has other warehouses, including in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, which have been unaffected.

Orders being dealt with by its Andover warehouse will now be redirected to other units, but the fire is a major blow for the company with it responsible for around 10% of its total capacity.

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