South East Wales

Fire forces Blooms Garden Centre closure in Cardiff

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Media captionFire officers say the 'fast-moving' blaze took five hours to put out

A garden centre almost destroyed by a "substantial" fire will be closed for the foreseeable future, the company has said.

The "fast-moving" blaze at Blooms Garden Centre in St Mellons, Cardiff, is under investigation.

It broke out on Wednesday at around 22:20 GMT.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service took five hours to put the fire out and has estimated just 30% of the building has been saved.

Cylinders caused a series of small explosions and homes near the site were evacuated.

No one was injured in the fire.

The garden centre had a soft play centre for children and a popular winter wonderland attraction, which was due to open this weekend.

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Media captionBrian Thompson from South Wales Fire and Rescue said it was a 'fast-moving' fire

Brian Thompson, group manager from South Wales Fire and Rescue, told BBC Radio Wales that eight engines and 46 firefighters tackled the blaze, which was fanned by high winds.

The fire was eventually put out at 03:00 GMT on Thursday.

The roads surrounding the building have been reopened.

Families living near Blooms were allowed back into their homes in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mr Thompson said: "The crews and myself were faced with a fairly challenging situation. We had a fast-moving fire in, what appeared to be, the whole of Blooms. The fire was moving towards nearby units and also some houses."

The fire officer said three properties had to be evacuated.

"I directed my crews' efforts to, essentially, stopping the fire spreading and stopping other business going up in flames.

Image caption Fire officers say just 30% of the large building in St Mellons could be saved

"The whole nursery just appeared to be completely engulfed in flames but I believe we saved about 30% of the nursery."

Crews were hampered by high winds which "pushed the fire throughout the building quite quickly", Mr Thompson said.

Extra water resources also had to be called in.

"There were some minor explosions during the incident which were probably small cylinders," he said.

A manager for Blooms arrived at the scene soon after firefighters and was able to tell them where the danger areas were, which included where fireworks were stored.

Photographer Matt Horwood told the BBC: "It was a pretty big fire, it was huge.

Image caption The fire has left major damage to the garden centre

"The wind was blowing as well and I think it made the flames bigger... there were people standing round in their pyjamas on the other side of the road."

One local resident said: "There were flames that were as tall as the building...we were really lucky that the wind was blowing the smoke on to the golf course way so it didn't come near the houses".

She added it was "exciting and frightening but obviously very sad for the people who haven't got any jobs anymore".

One resident described the garden as "part of the community" that will be "sorely missed".

A spokeswoman for the Garden Centre Group said Blooms would be closed for the foreseeable future.

"At this stage we do not know what caused the fire," she said.

"We are asking our customers to check online for further updates and any customers who have events booked in the run up to Christmas will be contacted by our customer service team."

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