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Streets sealed off as firefighters deal with smoking remains of blaze-hit Barwell factory


Part of a village remained sealed off yesterday as firefighters dealt with the smoking remains of a factory.

Only the office building of mail order company Arden Direct and Digital in Barwell, was left standing following the ferocious blaze on Saturday.

Roads around the factory, including Arthur Street, King Street and George Street, remained cordoned-off yesterday, with householders advised only to make necessary trips to and from their homes.

At the height of the blaze, more than 50 firefighters tackled flames leaping from the business's two-storey warehouse and distribution centre, which contained hundreds of thousands of holiday and mail order brochures.

Three of the company's 35 staff were working in a call centre when the fire started, but were able to escape unharmed

Nearby homes were evacuated as the fire raged over seven hours.

George Street resident Phill Ludbrook said: "There was a mad rush by people to move their cars as far away as possible. We left with the lights off as there was no power and I grabbed what I could.

"We spent Saturday night at my parents' home in Burbage. We managed to get back home on Sunday afternoon.

"We were glad to get back home, especially the children, to play with their Christmas presents.

"My daughter needed a lot of consoling and talking to."

Margaret Miller 61, who lives in a flat in King Street, said: "We were shopping at Asda on Saturday when my son, Jamie, rang and said he didn't know if the flats were on fire.

"I've got back in this morning. I spent two nights at my son's in Earl Shilton.

"My flat is opposite the building and they wouldn't let me in yesterday because the gable end of the factory was leaning.

"I'm glad to be back in my own place."

Small pockets of fire, whipped by strong winds, continued to break out on the site during the weekend.

Most of the two-storey building, which was unsafe, was demolished on Sunday.

Locals were advised to stay inside yesterday as demolition workers slowly cleared rubble while firefighters checked for remaining hot spots.

Crew manager Chris Geary, from Hinckley fire station, said: "We could be on site for up to a week.

"The crews here tackling the fire at the weekend did a great job to save the office building."

David Hollis, director of Shinemel Ltd, the building's owner, said: "Ardent is busy with holiday brochures at this time of year.

"The company has operated on this site for over 20 years.

"The fire service is to be congratulated for saving the offices and, hopefully, the computers, by putting down a water sheet to stop the fire spreading. Otherwise it would have been catastrophic."

Richard Dolman, joint owner of A R Demolition, said: "The building was quite high and very unstable. All the floors and roof had gone and it was a risk to the public."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Two videos by Mark Foster of the fire filmed from the Northern Perimeter Road in Hinckley, on Saturday at about 4.30pm. Phill Ludbrook's video of the fire in Barwell as it took hold over the weekend. More of your videos of the fire at its height on Saturday afternoon

Streets sealed off as firefighters deal with smoking remains of blaze-hit Barwell factory

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