Massive blaze at Shardlow lab which breeds animals for research
MORE than one hundred firefighters were called to tackle a massive blaze at a Shardlow laboratory which breeds animals for medical research.
Crews from across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, with 21 fire trucks and seven specialist vehicles, fought the blaze at International Laboratory Services Ltd, on London Road, in the early hours of yesterday.
The nature of the building meant that the conditions for the firefighters – some of whom had travelled from as far as Matlock and Staveley – were "difficult and dangerous".
It took about eight hours to tackle the blaze – although some crews remained at the site into yesterday evening.
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The laboratory was granted an injunction from the High Court just two months ago to prevent animal rights protestors from harassing members of staff.
But yesterday the fire service said initial reports suggested there were no suspicious circumstances behind the blaze.
An investigation into the cause is ongoing.
Area manager Gavin Tomlinson, from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, said: "The fire is believed to have started in one of the labs and then spread across two buildings close together on the site.
"Firefighters had to work in very difficult conditions due to the construction of the building. Crews were forced to literally tear apart the building to gain access to the fire and put it out."
The first 999 call came in at 1.18am and the majority of the crews had left the site by 9am. Houses nearby were unaffected by the blaze.
Local resident Nancy Hawksworth said: "I first realised something was going on at about 1.30am.
"I heard the radios going and I looked out the window and saw a fire engine with a platform outside.
"You couldn't see any flames or smoke or anything like that."
ILS, which was previously named SafePharm before it was brought out by Harlan Laboratories UK, went to the High Court to bar animal rights groups from the site.
The injunction, which was given in December 2012, was granted against the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and the National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA) campaign groups.
The site is one of four that has barred protesters who were found to be harassing and intimidating lab staff.
A spokesman for International Laboratory Services Ltd, said: "At 1.20am the fire brigade were called to the site of International Laboratory Services in Shardlow for a fire in the Microbiology Department.
"There were no people in the building. Other facilities on the Shardlow site, including animal rooms, were unaffected by this incident."