Thorntons factory fire in Belper caused by aerosol cans set alight

Thick black smoke over the cricket pitch.
Image caption The cricket match between Derbyshire and Lancashire Seconds had to be abandoned

A fire and a series of explosions at a disused Thorntons factory were caused by aerosol cans being set alight, an investigation has found.

A building on the site in Belper, Derbyshire, was completely destroyed in the blaze on Friday afternoon.

Two types of material were distributed across the area, and one is being treated as asbestos until it can be determined exactly what it is.

Residents are being warned not to touch the thick grey/white material.

A spokesman for Amber Valley Borough Council said: "The council is not sure what this material is but there is a suspicion that it could be asbestos, which is hazardous.

"In the interest of public safety, this material is being treated as asbestos until it can be determined exactly what it is."

Thick black smoke

Samples of the material have been taken and council expects to have the results by the end of Monday, when they will be published online.

People can contact the council to arrange collection of the material.

The building was on Derwent Street in the town.

People in the area said they could not see where they were going because of thick black smoke, and a county cricket match being played nearby was abandoned.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Gavin Tomlinson said: "I would suspect that whoever did this didn't envisage the outcome that occurred."

Thin black/brown material was released in the area but this is thought to be burnt paint and cladding or insulation, which is not hazardous.

Police say they are still investigating the fire.

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