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Falmouth Docks hit by gas cylinder fire and explosions

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Media captionAdam Rivers heard the "thud" of the explosions. Fire video: Martin Perrett

More than 50 firefighters have been tackling a fire involving gas cylinders at a Cornwall dockyard.

The blaze at Falmouth Docks started at about 0810 BST among acetylene cylinders outside a warehouse. Witnesses reported hearing explosions.

The fire service said there were 240 cylinders, but many were empty.

Police set up an exclusion zone and about 150 people - including 60 students in an accommodation block - were moved out.

The Ships & Castles Leisure Centre was closed.

'Massive explosions'

There were no reports of injuries.

It was originally described by the fire service as a "major incident".

But Kevin Thomas of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said later: "It's moved from an aggressive state of incident and has reached a more stable state.

"But that's not to say things won't get worse again."

Emergency crews are to remain at the docks for 24 hours.

Image caption Emergency crews are expected to be at the docks for another day

Mr Thomas said crews would be cooling the cylinders and regularly checking their temperature.

Jamie Clark, who was staying about 60m (200ft) from the scene of the fire, said he was woken up by explosions.

"The building's fire alarm went off and they started evacuating people.

"Then there was some massive, massive explosions and we saw a big raging fire on top of these canisters."

Student Adam Rivers also said he heard loud noises after the fire started.

He said: "It was very, very distant, but there were some thuds."

Devon and Cornwall Police set up a command centre to deal with the incident.

Rest centres

Residents living near the docks were advised to keep doors and windows closed.

The Falmouth Hotel is a temporary rest centre, housing evacuees.

Cornwall Council also set up a respite centre at the town's Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The docks, which can handle ships with displacements of up to 100,000 tonnes, have repair facilities for vessels.

The site also provides mooring for cruise liners visiting the town. About 40,000 cruise passengers visit the town each year.

Organisers of the seventh annual Sea Shanty Festival in the town said the weekend-long event was going ahead, despite the cordon around the docks.

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