First floor of Chester Enterprise Centre reduced to rubble

The fire service was called to tackle a blaze in Chester in the early hours of Thursday.

Over 70 firefighters were called to a scene at the Chester Enterprise Centre located in Hoole Bridge, close to the railway station just before 4am.

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service said a total of 16 appliances from across the county were called to the scene to tackle the fire in the first floor of the centre in Lightfoot Street.

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service said there are no reports of any injuries at this time.

Gus O'Rourke, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager, said: "Crews have done an excellent job in containing the fire and bringing it under control.

"We were keen to act quickly and to give reassurance to residents, many of whom will remember the previous fire in Lightfoot Street back in 1996.

"This is a large incident and has required considerable resources and we are working as quickly as possible so that we can reopen roads and minimise disruption to the local community."

Sixty people were moved to safety from homes in Thomas Brassey Close and Merseyrail had to suspend rail services between Bache and Chester and vice versa, and put a rail replacement bus service in operation.

The A56 was also closed between Black Diamond Street and Lightfoot Street.

The train station is now fully open and Hoole Road is also open.

Chester Enterprise CentreThe Chester Enterprise Centre is an industrial and office building owned by Cheshire West & Chester Council, with units ranging from 155 sq ft to 1,970 sq ft across two floors, once used by entrepreneur Simon Nixon for his MoneySupermarket business.

The council said bus services took evacuees from the centre to a rest centre established at the United Reformed Church, which opened at 6am and was manned by Adult Social Services' staff and volunteers from organisations including Chester & District Housing Trust, Salvation Army, United Reformed Church, the Police, International Rotary Club and Women's Royal Voluntary Service, as well as some from Merseyside.

Cllr Bob Thompson added: "I am very impressed by the services provided throughout the emergency evacuation. The evacuees are being well looked after and are coping stoically – there was a great morale in the rest centre.

"I was also very pleased to see representatives from such a large number of local organisations here and doing everything they could to make the evacuation as comfortable as possible. This was very much community spirit in action"

Earlier today, council chiefs were meeting to discuss ways of helping owners of the 50 businesses based in the Chester Enterprise Centre, which will need relocating.

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UPDATE: Comment from Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service and Cheshire West & Chester Council added

By Ed

I had my former business, Deva Data, in the Enterprise Centre until 2006. My heart goes out to the oweners and staff of current businesses located there.

By John Murray

Was only in there yesterday, having worked at the Centre for 3 years I can’t beleive this has happened. So sorry for all the businesses in there who have lost everything. I hope things are sorted out for you all very quickly.

By Joan

It was coming. One of the coldest spots in the town with non existent heating and insulation. All it took to start it was faulty heater left overnight on.

By Pro

I have worked there for the past 4 years and seeing the building today was shocking. Good luck to everyone else working there, hope you all get sorted quick.

By Fran

So sad for all hard working people at the Enterprise Centre. Relieved nobody was hurt. Used to have a business there, and remember with fondness the lovely, supportive business community atmosphere of the fantastic people who owned the businesses there.Thinking of you all.

By Helen

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