Firecrews Remain At Scene Of Ocado Warehouse Fire

Fire at the Ocado warehouse in Andover Hampshire

It said that due to concerns over the presence of pressurised refrigerants at the site, the police conducted a limited evacuation of the immediate area on Wednesday evening.

It said: "We apologise to all those affected by this incident and are very thankful to the people of Andover for their understanding and support during this hard period".

According to the spokesperson, there has been substantial damage to the Andover building and its contents.

Ocado said on Thursday it was working to minimise disruption for customers by increasing capacity at its three other major British sites.

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.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Neil Cooper thanked colleagues, including those from brigades in Oxfordshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, Royal Berkshire and Hertfordshire, for the "commitment and professionalism in dealing with a complex operation in incredibly challenging circumstances".

A fire service spokeswoman said about 20 families were at a rest centre set up in Harrow Way Community School, Andover, after being evacuated from their homes.

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Conservative MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse posted on Facebook on Wednesday: "The fire has come and gone during the day, flaring up at times, and I understand it has recently receded, however I would urge people nearby to check online for advice". Although under control, it caused a collapsed roof and damaged all the robots and stock inside, firefighters said.

Four firefighters were treated for minor smoke inhalation, but no Ocado staff were injured.

Firefighters have been tackling the blaze for almost 40 hours.

Ocado packs and delivers more than 30,000 customer orders a week at the warehouse in Andover which is powered by robots.

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.

Ocado's shares, which fell 5.2 per cent on Wednesday when the company said the fire would hit sales growth, were down a further 9.1 per cent to 881.4 pence at 1135 GMT.

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