A safety system described by the fire service as ‘fantastic’ has prevented a potential explosion after a fire at a car workshop led to evacuations.
The fire service received a call at just after 7.30pm from an alarm receiving centre at the car workshop in an industrial estate in Redkiln Close, Horsham.
Six pumps were sent from Crawley, Horsham, Billingshurst, Dorking and Partridge Green, and the control unit was sent from Haywards Heath.
The fire had spread to the roof, and black smoke could be seen billowing out of the building. It is believed to have been caused in a storage compartment in the left-hand side of the workshop.
Residents from two nearby blocks of flats, believed to be Manton Court, were evacuated from their homes but were allowed back at just after 8.30pm.
According to the fire service, the blaze was extinguished within a couple of hours, but crews stayed on the scene to test gas cylinders that would have been used for welding.
Described by a spokesman as ‘volatile’, these could have caused a significant explosion at the site.
Once fire crews made sure they were safe, they left the scene at 1.20am this morning.
The was five square metres of damage to the roof, the fire service said.
The alarm receiving centre which contacted the emergency services is connected to the workshop’s CCTV system and works 24 hours a day. When sensors in the building are triggered by a potential break-in or fire, it sends signals to a monitoring centre where false alarms are filtered before the emergency services are called.
Ian Guppy, crew commander for the fire service said: “The fire safety procedures that this company has put in place meant that the fire was caught in its earliest infancy, which is the biggest positive for me.
“The alarm receiving centre was fantastic in alerting us that the fire was there.”
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, but the fire service and police will be returning to the scene at 9am this morning to investigate further.