Evacuated residents set to return home

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service were called to an outbuilding in Little Tew at two o’clock on Monday afternoon (Sept 17). The first attending officer quickly identified that cylinders were involved and suspected that this might involve acetylene.

Acetylene is highly explosive once it has been heated and it carries on being explosive even after the heat source has been removed.

Crews from Banbury, Hook Norton, Chipping Norton, Kidlington, Deddington and Chalbury attended. The officer in charge implemented the acetylene cylinder procedure which involves a two hundred metre cordon and water to be applied to the cylinders for at least twenty four hours. This decision was endorsed when it was discovered that there was a number of cylinders in the building on fire and a number of acetylene cylinders.

Crews set jets in place to cool the cylinders and working with Thames Valley Police began to evacuate people within the two hundred metre cordon. A meeting was held for all of the residents who were present at the Tew Centre and the situation was explained to them. Everyone was very understanding and there was a good atmosphere at the meeting.

Oxfordshire County Council's Emergency Planning Department worked with the Fire Service regarding arrangements for alternative accommodation for those who needed it.

The Tew Centre was used as a temporary location for those residents evacuated from Little Tew.

Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Kerry Blair said “We knew that the evacuation and cordon would be inconvenient to the local residents but there was a serious explosive risk once acetylene had been exposed to heat. The safety measures taken ensured that this incident was resolved with minimal risk to the residents and the fire-fighters.”

Fire officers used a remote infra-red thermometer to assess the conditions of the cylinders after they had been cooled for 24 hours.

Members of the public who have any further questions should call 0845 310 1111 and choose option 1.