FACTORY workers had to be treated for smoke inhalation after they used 14 fire extinguishers in an attempt to save their premises from going up in flames.

St Neots Packaging chairman Andy Ducker praised night shift staff at the Howard Road site for dealing with the matter "very efficiently" so fire fighters could then come in to "finish off the job" after the fire broke out at 10.55pm last night (Wednesday, September 5).

But Nigel Burgess, station commander for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The rapid location and extinguishment of the fire by attending crews most probably saved the building from being a total loss."

A defect in printing machinery caused the building to be heavily smokelogged but Mr Burgess said workers should not try to tackle incidents without calling for help.

"Unfortunately two members of staff at the factory suffered smoke inhalation after attempting to tackle the fire themselves," he said.

"If you discover a fire do not put yourself at risk. Always dial 999 before you attempt to put out any fire, no matter how small. A fire can spread extremely quickly and you can easily become trapped."

Fire fighters from St Neots called for back up from crews in Gamlingay and Papworth just two minutes after arriving at the scene at Unit 7 of the Howard Road Industrial Estate.

They cut away and isolated the affected machinery to bring the incident under control by 12.31am this morning (Thursday, September 6).

Fire fighters left the scene at 2.19am and were due to return this morning to carry out further checks but have handed control of the building back to the packaging company.

Mr Ducker said that although the machinery was damaged the building itself as fine and the business operating as normal.

"Thankfully everyone is okay and we are now managing the practical implications of the fire," he said.

"The staff on site working the night shift dealt with the matter very efficiently and the fire brigade then attended to finish off the job. No one wa shurt, which is the main thing."

St Neots Packaging creates, develops and manufactures packaging for the fast food and retail markets.