Eight injured in explosion at Surrey firm

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Eight people have been injured after an explosion at an industrial estate, emergency services said today.

Witnesses described hearing a loud bang on the Hobbs Industrial Estate in Newchapel, near Lingfield, Surrey, before a large fire broke out. Firefighters are still battling to control the blaze.

A spokesman for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance said they were called to the scene of the explosion just after 11.20am.

The casualties were taken to three hospitals - two by air ambulance. A spokeswoman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said their injuries range from "less serious to far more serious".

In a joint statement, Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and the South East Coast Ambulance Service urged anyone living near the site to close their windows and asked members of the public to stay away from the area.

The statement said 12 fire engines were sent to the scene, and that fire crews were "faced with a serious and escalating fire".

It added: "Police, fire and ambulance services are working hard to bring the incident under control in what are difficult circumstances. In addition local NHS services are responding well."

An insurance assessor at the scene, who declined to be named, said the premises where the fire broke out belong to a firm called eReco EMEA, which deals with IT and electrical recycling.

The explosion was heard by people at the nearby London England Temple.

One engineer, who did not want to be named, said he was working on a roof near the boundary of the temple's 32-acre grounds, when he heard it.

"There was a massive, massive bang, a large bang, with a little after-bang but that was it," he said. "And then just a few minutes after, that's when smoke started to appear. I'm actually working on a roof on part of our boundary and I could see the smoke starting to billow up."

Employees gathered at the nearby Peacock Lodge pub as police maintained a cordon at the entrance of the industrial estate.

A worker, who did not want to be named, said: "I heard a great big explosion and thought, what on earth was that?

"Then I looked out the window and there was all this debris coming down in the sky. It turned out to be stuff that looked like cartridges and bits were flying off the roof."

He said he had seen one person with burns to his hands, and another with a cut ear.

Christine Brooks, 59, a waitress at the pub, said she had felt a "huge vibration" and added: "Everything just shook."

One casualty was airlifted to a London hospital, five were admitted to the East Surrey Hospital at Redhill and two have been taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.