Fire and explosions at an aerosol storage warehouse - issue 233

Issue Number: 233


A fire occurred in a warehouse that contained approximately 4,000 pallets of aerosols, stored on racks up to six levels high.
The fire started on a week day when the warehouse and wider site was in full operation and was discovered at an early stage. The ten people who were working in the warehouse all evacuated the building within 40 seconds of the alarm being raised before an explosion, ultra-rapid fire spread and smoke logging of the building took hold within 80 seconds. The fire service used water to cool surrounding buildings and prevent fire spread but avoided putting water on the burning warehouse since the fire had progressed well beyond the point where extinguishment was a possibility.
Lessons learned from the incident related to the use of unprotected forklift trucks in aerosol stores; the potential for rapid fire escalation in aerosols; and paying careful attention to mezzanine levels and any separate compartments from which escape is only possible through the warehouse.

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).