Fire rips through lorry trailers at Whirlpool kitchen appliance factory

'I heard multiple explosions and several car alarms going off,' witness says

Almost 40 trailers were scorched at the Hotpoint factory in Peterborough.
Almost 40 trailers were scorched at the Hotpoint factory in Peterborough.

A raging fire has torn through lorry trailers at a kitchen appliance factory in Peterborough, sending large clouds of thick black smoke over the city.

Around 50 firefighters are working to bring the blaze under control at the Whirlpool UK headquarters, with up to 40 trailers ablaze.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions as billowing torrents of dark smoke were visible for miles across the city after the blaze broke out on Thursday evening.

There are no reported casualties and residents were warned to keep their doors and windows closed, emergency services said.

Amy Price, 45, said: "I heard multiple explosions and several car alarms going off. As soon as I got outside I could see the thick acrid smoke with ash falling nearby ... the smell was just disgusting. There were continuous streams of ambulances, fire appliances, investigation units and incident support units in attendance.

"It appeared that 15 or so lorries had blown up in the lorry park."

She added that parents were trying to collect their children from a nearby gymnastics club as police cordoned off and evacuated the immediate area.

The site is the UK head office of Whirlpool, a household appliance company which owns brands such as Hotpoint and makes tumble dryers and washing machines.

A Whirlpool spokesman said: "Most importantly, we can confirm that nobody has been injured in this incident and none of the buildings on our site have been affected. A fire broke out at approximately 6.45pm on Thursday in an area of our Peterborough headquarters where heavy goods vehicle trailers are parked.

"These trailers contained spare parts and the blaze spread to approximately 30 of them. The fire is now under control and investigations by the police into the cause are ongoing. Operations will resume as normal on site tomorrow. We would like to offer our most sincere thanks to the emergency services for all their assistance in tackling this incident.

"We also apologise to people living and working in the area for any disruption caused."

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service group commander Karl Bowden said: "We've got approximately 40 lorry trailers on fire. These lorry trailers are full of parts for washing machines and fridges. There is no risk to the public outside of this immediate area. We are on top of it, we are controlling the fire, and we hope to have it under control and extinguished within the next few hours."

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The fire service posted images showing around eight trailers completely gutted by fire at around 9pm, around two hours after they were called to the incident.

Peterborough police asked people to stay clear of the area.

The force added: "It is expected emergency services will be working late into the night to tackle the blaze."

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