Manchester

Oldham Maple Mill fire: Homes evacuated as crews fight 'major' blaze

Fire at Maple Mill Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption People living near the mill were advised to keep their windows closed

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as 80 firefighters tackle a huge fire at a former cotton mill in Oldham.

A total of 100 homes were cleared when the fire broke out after 04:15 GMT with 10 fire engines called to the scene.

Fire crews later had to withdraw as part of the Cardwell Street building collapsed in the intense heat.

It took crews nearly seven hours to get the blaze under control with the heat being felt 1,600ft (500m) away.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said it managed to stop the flames causing electricity blackouts to 2,500 homes and averted gas explosions.

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Fire chiefs described the blaze at Maple Mill as a "major incident"
Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Witnesses saw flames leap up to 200ft (60m) in the air

Gas, propane and oxygen cylinders were covered with water to prevent them exploding and an electricity sub-station was found in the mill's courtyard.

Area manager Warren Pickstone said: "If that would've gone down, approximately 2,500 properties would have lost their electricity.

"We made sure that we kept that at bay."

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Crews fought for several hours to bring the blaze under control

The BBC has learnt the former textile mill is owned by kitchen businessman Vance Miller, who was the subject of a failed Trading Standards prosecution in 2010.

The site has suffered from previous fires: in 2009 nearby homes had to be evacuated when an explosion led to a fire and there was another blaze at the building three months ago.

GMFRS confirmed it would now be investigating the latest incident which it confirmed broke out on the top floor of the mill.

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Fire crews had to use breathing apparatus while fighting the blaze
Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Ambulance crews attended the blaze, but there are not thought to be any injuries

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The fire service had declared the blaze as a "major incident".

Witnesses saw flames leap up to 200ft (60m) and said the front of the building had collapsed.

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Media captionHomes have been evacuated as firefighters tackle a major blaze at an Oldham mill
Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption By daybreak the extensive damage to the building was clear to see

There are not thought to be any casualties but local residents have been advised to keep their doors and windows closed.

An emergency "rest centre" has been set up by Oldham Council in the nearby Honeywell Centre for those residents evacuated from their homes.

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption The fire brigade confirmed the blaze broke out on the top floor of the mill
Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption A total of 15 fire engines were called to the scene

Eyewitness Sarah Jones told the BBC: "I was woken by two loud bangs that I thought were gunshots but they were explosions."

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption The blaze was still burning seven hours after it first started
Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Fire crews had to withdraw as part of the building collapsed in the intense heat

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