Firefighters praised for preventing Sheffield factory from burning to the ground

Firefighters at Woodhouse Mill, Retford Road, Sheffield
Firefighters at Woodhouse Mill, Retford Road, Sheffield

Firefighters have been praised for preventing a Sheffield factory from burning to the ground.

Crews were called to a machinery fire at Jeld-Wen on Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, but while they were at the factory there were two explosions and two further fires broke out.

Spray from a fire engine at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

Spray from a fire engine at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

Station manager Simon Rodgers, who oversaw the firefighting operation, said ‘dust explosions’ were responsible for the fires which broke out while crews were dealing with the original incident.

The firm manufactures timber doors at its Sheffield site and the two explosions occurred in giant containers outside the factory where sawdust is stored.

Flames from one of the containers spread to nearby building, where two trailers were stored, but firefighters prevented any major damage.

Station manager Rodgers said Jeld-Wen had evacuated the premises when crews arrived and nobody was injured.

Spray from a fire engine at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

Spray from a fire engine at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

He praised crews for saving the business premises.

“Crews worked diligently and made every effort to control the incident,” he said.

“They prevented fire spread to the rest of the factory, which could have easily gone up.”

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 1.40pm on Thursday and at its height there were around 30 at the scene and five engines.

Fire crew at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

Fire crew at Jeld-Wen, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill, after a woodchip fire broke out. Picture: Andrew Roe

They spent around five hours dealing with the incident.

“Initially there was a small fire in one of the machines in the factory,” said Station manger Rodgers.

“There is a sawdust extraction unit in the factory which takes it all out into large containers, known as hoppers, outside. And while we were on site there was an explosion in one of the hoppers.

“It was a dust explosion, which is where large amounts of dust mixed with oxygen in a confined space can combust.

Firefighters at Woodhouse Mill, Retford Road, Sheffield

Firefighters at Woodhouse Mill, Retford Road, Sheffield

“There was then a second explosion in another hopper.

“They went with a loud bang.

“Dust explosions are unusual.”

Jeld-Wen managing director, Mike Ward, said: “We would like to thank South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for their professionalism throughout the incident.

“The fire was quickly contained and the facility was evacuated immediately with no injuries to anyone.

“Not only did they bring the incident to a swift conclusion safely, they communicated well and worked with our team to reduce the impact on the business operations.

“We are pleased to say we are back working as normal.”