Hundreds flee after plastics fire forces hundreds from

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TWELVE PEOPLE were treated in hospital and 450 evacuated from their homes yesterdayafter toxic fumes from a fire at a plastics factory swept across a housing estate in Paignton, Devon.

Residents from nine roads on the Kingsway estate inPaignton were moved out early yesterday after a major fire broke out at the two-storey premises of Wilton Bradley.They faced spending the day in an emergency shelter.

A six-square-mile area of the estate was cordoned off yesterday. Three schools were shut for the day, and several roads were closed. Twelve fire crews were tackling the fire, a Fire Rescue Service spokesman said. "They have asked for a digger to knock down a wall to get at the fire," he added.

The fire was spotted by a night supervisor at the factory on an industrial estate near the Torbay ring road, and eight staff were evacuated safely. But by 1.30am the toxic smoke had spread and police decided to evacuate the estate. Residents who had not been evacuated were warned to keep their windows closed and not go outside.

Andy Westwood, the manager of the leisure centre manager said the operation to cater for hundreds of unexpected guests was going "very smoothly". The centre's cafes and bars were opened and blankets were provided.

The cause of the fire was still unknown, a police spokesman said.