Fire service likely to be tackling Ocado blaze for days

Marco Green
February 10, 2019

"We expect the rest of the building to be lost in this fire", said Neil Odin, Chief Officer at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Emergency services have been tackling the fire at the highly automated site full of robots in Andover since the early hours of Tuesday.

On Friday morning, the service said about 10 firefighters remained at the warehouse on Walworth Industrial Estate but at 16:00 GMT it said the incident had "come to an end" and the site had been "handed back to the owners". The fire is no longer classified as a major incident and local residents and workers have been able to access the affected area as normal.

Ocado said the fire, which started in a corner of the ambient grid, caused substantial damage to the majority of the building and its contents.

Some homes 1.6km away from the site were due to be evacuated depending to the wind direction, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

"This is obviously a bad event and thankfully no one has been hurt, although some firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation".

The full financial impact of the inferno is not yet known, but Ocado has increased capacity at its three other main United Kingdom sites in a bid to avoid disruption for customers. An exclusion zone has been lifted but firefighters may take another few days to extinguish the blaze fully. "Thank you. Stay safe".

"Once we have had time to assess the damage and prepare a plan to return the CFC (customer fulfilment centre) to operation we will update further as appropriate", Ocado said. The company said it has comprehensive insurance for the property, stock and equipment, as well as for business-interruption losses.

Ocado saw its share price fall more than 6% on Wednesday morning after news hit that one of its warehouses had caught fire, leading the company to issue a sales warning.

The complex - which Ocado calls a customer fulfilment centre (CFC) - had been providing about 10 per cent of the firm's United Kingdom capacity and used the robotic technology that it is selling to retailers around the world.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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