Industrial estate evacuated after Ocado warehouse blaze

Firefighters at the scene of Ocado robotic warehouse in Andover Hampshire

Firefighters at the scene of Ocado robotic warehouse in Andover Hampshire

British online supermarket Ocado said on Thursday fire fighters were expected to remain at its complex in southern England for at least the next few days as they continue to bring a devastating blaze under control.

The removal of the refrigerants has been completed, while local residents and workers are now also able to access the area. Ocado vans with food, drink, nappies and other essentials were sent to Andover and hotel rooms were made available for those who had to leave their homes during the night.

Ocado said it had been forced to cancel some customer orders because of the fire and it was "working hard to resume normal service as soon as possible".

The fire, which started on Tuesday morning, was battled by around 200 firefighters overnight, with the online grocer expecting a fall in sales growth until it can move operations to other warehouses.

A spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the "stop message", which signals the end of an incident, came in at 6.36 a.m. (0636 GMT) on Tuesday.

A rest centre has been set up at Harrow Way Community School.

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Ocado packs and delivers more than 30,000 customer orders a week at the warehouse in Andover which is powered by robots. Although under control, it caused a collapsed roof and damaged all the robots and stock inside, firefighters said.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said four firefighters had been treated for slight smoke inhalation.

One local resident tweeted during the blaze: "Just streets away - the noise, heat, smell and light pouring from the Ocado warehouse is frighteningly real".

Firefighters have been tackling the blaze for almost 40 hours. Makes you truly appreciate the courageous men and women of the Fire Service!

The Andover complex had been providing about 10 percent of the firm's capacity in Britain, using robotic technology that it is selling to grocery retailers around the world.

One of Ocado Group Plc's largest United Kingdom warehouses is expected to be completely destroyed by a fire, constraining the online grocer's ability to meet customer demand and cutting sales growth.

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