Ocado warehousing fire in Andover at last - BBC News

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Media captionVideo material shows damage to Ocado's Andover distribution center

A huge fire in the Ocado warehouse in Hampshire, which stretched out over four days, has ended.

The online supermarket apologized to residents and customers affected by the fire, which started on Tuesday.

Nearby houses were evacuated on Wednesday in the midst of the fear that a three-tonne cylinder of toxic ammonia gas could explode.

Residents were allowed to return Thursday after the gas was removed, but the crew spent a third night at the site.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Firefighter and Rescue Service Manager Neil Cooper thanked colleagues, including those from brigades in Oxfordshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, Royal Berkshire and Hertfordshire, for "dedication and professionalism in dealing with a complex operation in incredibly challenging conditions".

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Media captionOcado warehouse fire: flames and smoke from miles around

On Friday morning, the service said that about 10 firefighters remained in the warehouse at Walworth Industrial Estate but at 16:00 GMT it said the incident had "come to an end" and that the site had been "returned to the owners".

Approximately 100 residents moved Wednesday night and a 500m exclusion zone that was set up after the fire unexpectedly escalated at the end of July.

At the height of the fire, more than 300 firefighters worked to tackle the flames.

Four firefighters were treated for small smoke inhalation, but no Ocado personnel were injured.

A fundraising page for all involved crews has already yielded more than £ 900.

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The fire was declared a major incident by the fire service on Wednesday afternoon after it had escalated

The shares in the company fell by 14% and the company said it expected a drop in sales until it could move the activities to other warehouses.

More than 30,000 orders – 10% of Ocado's capacity – are processed weekly by robots in the Andover warehouse, but Ocado has not provided any details as to what the impact will be on customers.

It said: "We apologize to everyone affected by this incident and are very grateful to Andover's people for their understanding and support during this difficult period."

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Media captionImage shots in 2017 show the robots of the distribution center for collecting and packing messages