"Intense" fire at Heathcote industrial estate damages premises

Fire has devastated one business premises and damaged others at an industrial estate near Leamington.

The "intense" blaze blew out windows and caused walls to buckle at the Pentagon Press printing shop in the Heathcote Industrial Estate early on Wednesday December 23.

Firefighters were called to the Harriott Drive office shortly before 4.15am and worked for three and a half hours to bring the fire under control.

Despite not initially being able to enter the building, crews fought to stop it spreading to neighbouring units.

Simon Ethershaw, Warwick district area risk manager, described the fire as "intense" and praised firefighters for their work in bitterly cold conditions.

He said: "Crews did a fantastic job in preventing the fire from spreading.

"It was a very difficult fire because of the nature of the building. It doesn't take very much at all for buildings of this kind to become unstable.

"It was already buckling as we started fighting the fire."

With a possibility the building would collapse, crews used a hydraulic platform to fight the flames from outside, only later going into the premises using breathing apparatus.

Parts of the roof and ceilings in the building have collapsed and fire investigators and structural engineers were due to inspect the building later that day.

Six fire crews from Leamington, Warwick, Kenilworth, Southam and Atherstone were called to the scene. Police closed part of Heathcote Lane for fire engines to work from both Heathcote Lane and Harriott Drive.

Mr Ethershaw praised Warwickshire County Council, whose gritting lorries kept the area safe for firefighters working in temperatures of minus six degrees.

Smoke was still rising from the roof of the building as workers at other premises began to arrive at work.

Warwick-based car valeting firm Assured group has its headquarters next door. The wall linking the premises is buckled and smoke has affected all four buildings in the unit.

Office manager Tracey Rigby said she and her staff were "shocked and disappointed" when they saw the damage.

She said: "We had worked really hard and we have recently had some refurbishment done. Now we are going to have to start all the hard work again.

"But it is Christmas so it is a good opportunity to get that done.

"It won't affect our business as most of our work is done away from the office. We will move elsewhere if we need to."

The fire is not being treated as suspicious.