'Massive' factory fire breaks out in Leicester
A "massive" fire has broken out at a building near to a number of factories in Leicester.
The blaze started in Ross Walk, near Abbey Park, in the Belgrave area of the city at about 14:00 on Monday 28th December 2015.
Eyewitness Roy Rollings, a local parish councillor, said he could hear "loud bangs" and homes had been evacuated nearby.
Fire crews are taking water from the canal to help tackle the flames and dozens of onlookers have been moved on by police due to "toxic" smoke.
Ronak Jason Kamat, who lives in the Wolsey Building in Abbey Park Street, told the BBC he was having lunch when the blaze started. He said: "We watched from the window for a while - at the time all we could see was plumes of smoke. But things soon escalated and as more and flames became visible. "I was metres away from the fireman in one of the service yards outside and watched as they desperately tried to put the raging fire out."
About 140 people needed evacuating from their homes in Westbourne Street and Kensington Street, and the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre had been prepared as a temporary refuge.
Abbey Park Street, Olphin Street, Moorgate Street, Westbourne Street, Kensington Street and Marjorie Street were all closed by police. There were no reports of any injuries, the force said.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue said 12 appliances, two aerial ladder platforms and six water jets had been used to fight the fire.
Smoke could be seen from Bradgate Park, about five miles [8 km] away.
The blaze which destroyed much of a former factory site in Leicester was caused by an electrical fault, say fire investigators.
Up to 70 fire fighters from across the county and neighbouring Derbyshire fought the inferno, at the complex.
It is thought that the blaze started in a recycling centre within the site and involved large amounts of burning plastic before it spread to other business units, including a sofa storage unit, a mattress company and a vehicle storage business.
Meanwhile, the people living in houses evacuated due to the blaze still do not know when they will be allowed back into their homes.
Marjorie Street, in Belgrave, Leicester, remained closed two days after the huge fire ripped through the complex.
Demolition work and damping down of the embers was suspended so fire investigators could enter the ruins and establish the cause. Several properties in Marjorie Street were damaged by the intense heat of the fire.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: "Our windows shattered due to the heat and have had to be boarded up. "I live with my 78-year-old mother, who was in at the time. She is quite badly shaken by what's happened."
"Fortunately, we can stay with relatives in Belgrave, but it's not ideal. It's hard to find out what's going on."
Simon Wilkens of Leicester Fire and Rescue Service said it could be several days before residents were allowed to return. He said: "It's simply not safe at the moment. There is still a large structure at that end of the site waiting to come down. If it collapses then it could fall into Marjorie Street." Mr Wilkens said demolition work could take several days.
Story collated by Liz Turnbull.
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