Fire engine destroyed by river of diesel as crew tackled blaze
A FIRE engine has been completely destroyed while fighting a blaze at a workshop in Tavistock.
The £200,000 appliance was engulfed when flaming diesel poured down a hill towards it.
But the quick-thinking actions of the crew at the scene meant that no firefighters were injured during the terrifying incident.
Crews from Tavistock, Princetown, Plympton, Crownhill and Camels Head rushed to the scene of the fire in Collaton Lane in the early hours of Sunday morning.
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But while they were battling the blaze, a diesel tank ruptured sending burning fuel pouring towards the crew and the fire engines.
The firefighters managed to move two fire engines away in time.
But they had to watch helplessly as a third one went up in flames.
Steve Widnell, area commander, explained: "While dealing with the fire itself we have to park really close to the fire for access – the closest appliance was about 20 metres away from the building.
"It was at the top of a hill so we were down the hill slightly.
"The severity of the fire has caused a diesel tank inside the building to split.
"The crew managed to get two appliances out of the way but we weren't able to move the third.
"We had to risk assess at whether it was safe to put our crew in to move it.
Unfortunately it's been completely destroyed."
The 15 tonne piece of kit is thought to be around 10 years old. It was one of two appliances based at Tavistock station.
Mr Widnell continued: "This highlights the dangers firefighters face every day.
"One of the problems we have is trying to assess what might be inside a building.
"In this case, the owner was at the scene and it was during that assessment the diesel tank split.
"It was very concerning for the officers involved but they made the right decision to evacuate our personnel to a place of safety when we did. It could have been so much worse."
The exclusion zone had been pushed back to 200 metres which is hampering the investigation into the cause of the fire.
The fire engine which has been destroyed was likely to remain at the scene until at least this morning.
Mr Widnell added: "It's very sad for the crew. They take a lot of pride in keeping their appliances in tip top condition.
"This was a freak occurrence and the swift actions of the officers made sure nobody was hurt."
The fire broke out at the remote workshop – measuring 30 metres by 20 metres – shortly before 2am on Sunday morning.
Crews used breathing apparatus, hose reel jets, a water bowser and thermal imaging cameras to fight the flames.
Western Power isolated the electrics and several people from nearby properties were evacuated to a place of safety.
The Environment Agency attended at the scene to help control the diesel spillage. Crews continued to monitor the incident from a safe distance overnight last night.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.