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Chemical Fire in Penryn

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2:19pm 6th December 2011
(Updated 2:19pm 6th December 2011)

Thirty people evacuated at Penryn after fire took hold at a boatyard, are back in their homes.

Four chemical drums caught fire first thing on Tuesday morning at Islington Wharf.

Diversions had to be set up amid road closures in the town. Commercial Road, Church Road and Church Hill are now open again. Some drivers had been reporting delays of around half an hour to get from Penryn to Falmouth.

Fire crews say the situation is now under control and flames are out. A spokesperson for the council said, "The scene has now been left in the hands of the owners who will continue to monitor levels of phosphine throughout the day. The levels are now considered safe. Residents living on the houseboats within the boatyard will be able to return to their homes later today after fire officers have conducted a final check to confirm the drums pose no further threat to the public."

A rest centre had to be set up for people forced out of their homes, boats and offices. Police are telling people to avoid the area.

The chemical was originally used to make weapons in World War One but is now used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Kathy Halsey works at Penryn College, being used as a rest centre. She said, "Obviously there's a little bit of shock but there's definitely a British spirit. People are getting round, having a cup of tea and chatting about it. There's no real sense of upset or panic at the moment. I think they're just glad to be in the warm now."

Nursery worker Helen Churchill is one of those ordered out. She said, "We were a little bit confused because we had heard a couple of bits on the radio but we didn't really know exactly what had happened. Then, literally within seconds, we had a knock and then the police officer was there. It just happened all of a sudden."

2:19pm 6th December 2011

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