FOUR workers fled from a timber factory as a large fire ripped through the building in Eaton Socon on Monday (July 16).

Tens of thousands of pounds worth of machinery and stock went up in smoke at Boardcraft, on Howard Road, as six fire crews and a turntable ladder battled the blaze which was only expected to be fully extinguished today (Wednesday).

The fire, which started in a dust extractor unit at the back of the factory at about 9am, spread quickly though the main building and at its height forced firefighters to retreat outside.

Two firefighters were taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon to be treated for heat exhaustion.

As of noon yesterday (Tuesday), the building was still burning but a spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said investigations into the cause would hopefully begin later in the afternoon.

Incident Commander Dave Richardson praised his officers and quick-thinking factory staff.

“Everyone worked really well together to ensure people got out safely,” he said. “The factory staff did everything they should have done, which was excellent.”

Mr Richardson said the main concern was that the fire would spread to the building next door, which houses Boardcraft's second factory and its offices.

“There were huge flames coming out, which had to be extinguished to stop the fire spreading,” he explained. “We did that by establishing water curtains to stop radiating heat escaping.”

He added that, although the fire had been contained to one building, “the walls were cracked, everything inside had been destroyed” and it was structurally unstable.

Despite the ongoing fire service operation, Boardcraft owner Bill Chambers said that it was business as usual.

“Broadcraft is up and running and open for business,” he told The Hunts Post. “Luckily we have two factories and the fire only attacked one of them. As soon as we get the all-clear to turn the electrics back on, we'll be open for business as usual.”

Mr Chambers said he would also be looking at the possibility of moving into another unit, but that would take some time, and that some water damage had occurred at his second factory.

Boardcraft, established in 1972, has built-up a reputation as one of the country's leading wood products suppliers and includes among its customers companies such as British Telecom, Ford and Hotpoint.

Firefighters remained at the scene last night to tackle the deep seated fire.

INFORMATION: For information on Boardcraft visit www.boardcraft.co.uk