An enormous fire that engulfed a factory in Leicester and led to the evacuation of 140 nearby residents has been brought under control. Flames about 200ft high lit up the city's skyline after a fire broke out at 2pm on 28 December.
Eyewitnesses described hearing loud bangs as thick black smoke billowed out of what was said to be a plastics factory off Ross Walk in the Belgrave area of the city. Twelve fire engines and three aerial ladder platforms were used to fight the fire until it was brought under control at 1am on 29 December, with firefighters pumping water from a nearby canal.
Eyewitness Ronak Jason Kamat, who lives in the Wolsey Building in Abbey Park Street, told the BBC: "We watched from the window for a while – at the time all we could see was plumes of smoke. But things soon escalated. I was metres away from the fireman in one of the service yards outside and watched as they desperately tried to put the raging fire out."
The local residents were reportedly evacuated from their homes as the fire grew in size, with many taking shelter in the nearby Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre.
Businesses adjacent to the two-storey factory were also said to be left counting the cost. Kishor Chauhan, who has a nearby storage unit for his clothing and household utensil store, told the Leicester Mercury: "We haven't been in yet but our storage unit will certainly have been affected –the roof on the floor above collapsed in the fire and all the water will have damaged the stock if the flames didn't. It was a terrible feeling to watch it burning down. I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
He said other businesses affected included a recycling company, a printing business and a clothing factory.
A police spokesman said no injuries were reported but they have urged residents keep windows and doors shut. A number of roads in the Ross Walk area remain closed, including Abbey Park Street, Olphin Street, Moorgate Street, Westbourne Street, Kensington Street and Marjorie Street at the junction with Kensington Street.
The cause of the fire is not yet known and two fire crews remain on the scene. Residents and passers-by took to social media to share their footage and photographs of the blaze: