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Volunteers help evacuees at Lingfield factory blaze

3 October 2011

Volunteer comforts a couple after an incident© InfoVolunteers raced to help distressed evacuees today after a serious explosion and fire at a Surrey factory left eight people injured.

The Red Cross was called out by Surrey fire and rescue service to provide practical and emotional support for almost 150 people, following the explosion at an industrial estate near Lingfield. The presence of gas cylinders at the site had further complicated the response to the ensuing blaze.

As fire crews fought to contain the escalating fire, a team of three volunteers from the fire and emergency support service (FESS) arrived to find many of those present had been greatly shocked and upset by their proximity to the blast.

‘Very distressed’

FESS volunteer Michelle Lawson said: “We arrived to find people evacuated from the area, so our role was to organise a safe place for them until they could make their way home.

“Understandably, the evacuees were looking for more information about what had happened, so we kept them calm while we tried to find out more on their behalf.”

She added: “We’re well trained in providing compassionate support, which is very important at  times like these. One man had been thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion, and another was very distressed by everything he had seen and heard.”

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