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UPDATE: Fire crews say not all people accounted for after multiple vehicle fire near Chawleigh

By NDJJoel  |  Posted: March 29, 2013

The scene of the blaze near Chawleigh this morning

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A senior fire fighter has praised firemen for extinguishing a major blaze in a field near Chawleigh last night which involved several exploding gas cylinders.

Fire crews from Barnstaple, Chulmleigh, Witheridge and North Tawton were called to the field along the B3042 road between Boxes Corner and Long Down shortly before midnight last night.

Fire and police crews are still on the scene and an investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Station Manager Mark Sanders, who was in charge of the fire crews, said the fire involved four cars, two caravans and a large quantity of gas cylinders.

He said: "As soon as the first crew arrived on scene there was an explosion which caused debris and vehicle parts to be thrown a considerable distance.

"As we investigated the scene further we could see that the site was large and there were additional vehicles and caravans as well as an extensive number of Gas Cylinders.

"Some of these were already involved in the fire, making the fire difficult to extinguish whilst ensuring crews were safe.

"The crews did a fantastic job in extinguishing the fire and stopping further fire spread that would have involved more hazards and further explosions."

Fire service Group Commander Neil Blackburn said: "All the vehicles were destroyed, it was a very extensive fire.

"At the moment we cannot 100 per cent confirm that all the people have been accounted for.

"We are treating the cause of the fire as suspicious and we have not ruled out arson.

"A fire investigation team is still at the scene."

Police and ambulance crews also attended as a precaution and Western Power were called to isolate electricity to the site.

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