Falmouth docks fire forces people out of homes overnight

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

More than 150 residents will not return to their homes overnight following a fire involving gas cylinders at Falmouth Docks.

The blaze started at about 0810 BST among acetylene cylinders outside a warehouse.

The fire service said crews would cool the 240 cylinders overnight. Many of the cylinders were empty.

Police have set up a 300m exclusion zone and said the incident "is ongoing".

The cordon will remain in place until at least Saturday morning.

Following the explosion about 150 people - including 60 students in an accommodation block - were moved out of nearby premises and The Ships & Castles Leisure Centre was closed.

'Massive explosions'

There have been no reports of injuries during the blaze, which the fire service originally described as a "major incident".

Dave King of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said: "We're still trying to cool some of the cylinders that are still alight.

"We are having some success at this time in decreasing the number that are alight from what was in the high 20s down to about 15."

Mr King said crews would stay in place overnight cooling the cylinders and regularly checking their temperature.

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

Devon and Cornwall Police have set up a command centre to deal with the incident and residents living near the docks were advised to keep doors and windows closed.

Rest centres

The Falmouth Hotel has been used as a temporary rest centre, housing evacuees and Cornwall Council also set up a respite centre at the town's Emmanuel Baptist Church.

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."

The docks, which can handle ships with displacements of up to 100,000 tonnes, have repair facilities for vessels and also provide mooring for cruise liners visiting the town.

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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