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Bell St Henley incident

Emergency services are currently responding to an ongoing incident at a shop in Bell Street, Henley. See below for further updates.


Staff Members at Henley Store Suffer Breathing Difficulties

At 1433 on Wednesday 8 June, Thames Valley Fire Control Service received an emergency call reporting members of staff at WH Smith, Bell Street, Henley complaining of breathing difficulties, possibly caused by some sort of gas or chemical having been released.

Crews from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, together with Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services, were immediately dispatched and colleagues from South Central Ambulance Service and Thames Valley Police were also requested to support the incident.

 After swiftly arriving on scene, the local crew from Henley Fire Station found several people suffering ill effects and the store being evacuated. They immediately took actions to isolate those already involved and established initial safety cordons to protect remaining members of the public occupying the busy town centre.

Due to the nature of the incident and the uncertainties surrounding what had happened, additional specialist Fire and Rescue Detection Identification and Monitoring Teams and Equipment were requested and a multi-agency command structure and approach established.

Crews wearing specialist protective clothing and carrying detection equipment then entered the area in question in an attempt to establish any unknown substances and a possible cause.

Whilst the searches were taking place, 10 persons were checked at the scene by South Central Ambulance Service and all were subsequently released.

Nothing untoward was discovered inside the store and when all responders were happy that the situation was now fully under control, crews worked swiftly to return the area to normal, thus allowing neighbouring businesses and surrounding streets to reopen.

Although nothing untoward was found, South Central Ambulance Service are advising that if any members of the public who were in the store at the time (2.30pm) believe they are suffering any ill effects, they are advised to contact 111.

Incident Commander Station Manager Marcus Reay said “due to the type of incident we were faced with it was necessary to put in a safety cordon around the incident in Bell Street. I would like to thank the business owners and our colleagues from Thames Valley Police who worked with fire service crews to make the evacuation of people in the area happen in a calm and timely manner. Although our specialist crews detected nothing untoward on their equipment, Thames Valley Police are continuing to investigate what may have occurred in the store to cause staff and some members of the public these ill effects.”

If you have any information about this incident, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.


Statement from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's Premises Risk and Protection Manager Stuart Garner:

“Around 2.30pm, the fire service from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Royal Berkshire together with South Central Ambulance Service and Thames Valley Police were called to members of staff complaining of breathing difficulties at WH Smith, Bell Street, Henley.

“The store was immediately evacuated. Responders from all emergency services worked together to cordon off the area to maintain the safety of other members of public in the vicinity.

“Fire and Rescue Service and SCAS specialist teams wearing protective equipment and using monitoring devices searched the store in an attempt to identify any gas or chemicals present. Nothing untoward has been discovered.

“Ten persons were checked at the scene by South Central Ambulance Service and have all subsequently been released

“Fire and SCAS are currently working with TVP to return the area to normal and reopen the businesses and surrounding streets. Police are continuing to investigate the cause.

“Nothing untoward has been found. However, if any members of the public who were in the store at the time (2.30pm) believe they are suffering any ill effects, they are advised to contact 111.”


Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service is currently in Henley working with Thames Valley Police and ambulance services as they deal with an incident at a shop in Bell Street.

At around 2.35pm today emergency services were called when several customers came out of the store coughing and with streaming eyes. Seven people are being treated at the scene by South Central Ambulance.

There are cordons in place and are likely to be in place for the next two hours or so while the fire service deals with the incident . There are also traffic restrictions in place and drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible.

There is nothing to suggest that this is related to terrorism.

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