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Homes evacuated after Radcliffe explosion

media captionAn explosion was heard when a gas main ignited in a fire in Schofield Street on Thursday night.

About 100 homes had to be evacuated after a large fire and explosion at a disused industrial building in Greater Manchester.

Fire crews were called at 21:45 BST on Thursday after reports of smoke in Bury Road, Radcliffe.

During the fire's early stages, an explosion was reported after a gas main ignited and caused part of the building to collapse.

Residents in about 20 properties are still waiting to return to their homes.

Fire crews worked with National Grid to safely isolate the gas pipe.

Sixty firefighters were dealing with the disused factory fire at its height.

Residents were relocated to an emergency rest centre set up by police and Bury Council.

A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said there had been no reports of anyone being missing or injured.

He said: "There was a small explosion, enough to cause some damage to the building.

"Crews are now damping down the scene and allowing residents to return to their homes wherever possible."

The residents waiting to return to their homes are from properties directly facing the fire, with fire crews expected to remain at the scene until Friday night.

One witness described it as a "massive explosion... just like a film".

'Massive explosion'

The fire in the building measuring about 120m (400ft) by 80m (250ft) was brought under control in the early hours of Friday.

Hannah Ross, one of those evacuated from flats nearby, said: "I was at home with my boyfriend when we heard all these bangs going off like fireworks.

image captionFire crews were expected to remain at the scene until Friday night

"We looked out at the factory behind the flats and saw a massive fire - it was biggest fire I've ever seen, covering the whole factory.

"We went downstairs and outside. People were talking about their cars getting hot because of the fire."

She said they were asked to leave the building by police.

"Later there was a massive explosion - and everyone jumped, just like a film," said Ms Ross.

Greater Manchester Police said a joint fire service and police investigation into the cause of the fire was taking place.