[Updated - all staff are out and safe] At approximately 2pm this afternoon [Aug.8] a fire broke out at the HWP Paint shop on St Johns Road in Pembroke, with locals reporting hearing what sounded like an explosion just before the fire, and staff running out of the building. The Bermuda Fire Service has responded and are presently working to put out the fire. We will update as able.
Update: Massive amounts of smoke is billowing through the air for miles around, and emergency personnel continue to arrive.
Update: It is hard to count the amount of fire trucks as the smoke is inhibiting the view, however it appears there are at least six fire trucks on scene. Locals are reporting being able to see and smell the smoke from as far away as Friswells Hill and Flatts.
Update: Flames can be still be seen through the smoke at the top of the building. The fire appears to have burned through the roof of the building and is burning strong. Additional emergency service vehicles are arriving, and we unofficially understand that crews have been called in from both ends of the island to help fight the blaze. There appears to be approximately 20 vehicles on scene.
Update: HWP report that “All staff are out and safe.”
Update: Police are also on scene, keeping onlookers back from the fire. Dozens of people are watching the fire, many taking photos with their cell phones. You can hear ‘explosions’ going off as the flames burn in the video below:
Update: The fire continues to spread throughout the building as the fire department fights to get it under control. The volatile substances within the building are of concern, as is the close vicinity of the Rubis gas station.
Update: Police presently have the road blocked off from the Berkeley Hill Road, and huge clouds of black smoke can be seen for as far as the eye can see. The smoke is so thick, you cannot see as far as Gorhams from Berkeley.
Update: Photo showing the inside of the building on fire, with reports saying the building has started to partially collapse. Firefighters have been pumping water from Mill Creek to help combat the blaze.
Update: There are 60 firefighters on scene having responded from multiple fire stations, and we unofficially understand some came in from their days off to help battle the blaze. They are using a hydraulic lift to spray gallons of water at the fire.
Update: The police are “asking all individuals within a one mile radius of the St. John’s Road area to please stay inside as it is not clear at this time whether the smoke in the air is toxic or not.” Police officially confirm the very welcome news that all HWP staff are fine. Official police statement below:
At 2:02 pm the Bermuda Fire Service, first responders and the Bermuda Police Service responded to a report of a fire at HWP Paint and Body Shop on St. John’s Road, Pembroke.
At present, members of the Bermuda Fire Service are working feverishly to get the fire under control with the help of 9 fire appliances and 60 fire officers.
In the abundance of caution, the Bermuda Police Service is asking all individuals within a one mile radius of the St. John’s Road area to please stay inside as it is not clear at this time whether the smoke in the air is toxic or not.
All businesses in the surrounding areas have been evacuated and HWP can confirm that every member of their staff is accounted for.
Residents living in the Cox’s Hill, St. John’s Road and Blackwatch Pass areas are asked to please stay away from the HWP area until the fire has been contained.
Update: The photo below shows the building collapsing:
Update: The bottom left hand of the video below shows the cars parked outside HWP being engulfed in flames.
Update: Officials are holding a press conference this evening, so we will bring you full official details later tonight. We expect to hear from representatives of the Fire Service, Police and HWP.
Update: The Department of Health issued a statement:
The Department of Health is encouraging all residents in the direct neighborhood of the fire at HWP on St. John’s Road to protect their rain water supplies from smoke and soot caused by the HWP fire.
Ideally all down-pipes that connect the catchments and tanks should be blocked on houses immediately adjacent to the fire, to prevent any pollutants that may have blown onto the roof from being washed into the water tank by the next rainfall.
Furthermore, the catchment should be cleaned before being used to collect water again.
The best method of sealing down pipes is to use inflatable rubber stoppers (available at paint specialty stores), but an alternative, less expensive, method is to wrap old tennis balls with cloth to provide a tight seal in the down-pipe. Cover the ball and cloth with a plastic zip lock bag so that they do not get wet.
Once the pollution episode is over, the entire roof surface should be thoroughly washed with clean water using a spray hose. Residents should then use a 5-gallon pail and a large sponge to remove the remaining water from the gutters, then unplug all the downpipes.
Update: Live video of the press conference below with representatives from the Ministry of National Security, Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, Police and HWP. [Press conference over, replay available below]
Update: Attending were Chief Fire Officer Vincent Hollinsid, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief, Police Chief Inspector Na’imah Williams and Jonathan Brewin, President and C.E.O. of the HWP Group.
Chief Fire Officer Hollinsid said there were 20 vehicles sent to the scene, and it took 3.5 hours to control and contain the fire. He said the Fire Service: “Made attempts to extinguish the fire by entering the building, but that was quickly decided against because of the construction of the building, and it was considered to be unsafe.”
“The officer in charge made the decision to go into what we call a defensive firefighter mode. That means we would not commit people to the building, we used a surround and drown methodology.” He said they got great cooperation from BELCO to use their water, and laid a line from Mills Creek to use their water.
Minister Wayne Perinchief praised the Fire Service, and said: “There were no injuries, one fire fighter succumbed to exhaustion but he is now okay.”
HWP CEO Jonathan Brewin said all staff were evacuated safely, and HWP will open a help desk at 10am tomorrow to assist customers. He said there are approximately 50 staff on that side of the business, and they were alerted by their fire alarms. Mr Brewin praised the Police and Fire Service for their response.
Update: HWP released a statement which can be read in full here, and the photo below shows the HWP building this evening, post-fire.
Update: As of this time [midnight] St Johns Road is open, and police have the area around HWP cordoned off. It is still quite smokey, and officers are wearing protective masks. Seven videos from today posted here.
Click to enlarge photos:
[Bernews would like to extend our thanks to everyone who sent in photo and videos. It was much appreciated]
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- Photos/Video: HWP Building After The Fire : Bernews.com | November 20, 2011