A devastating blaze at a textile warehouse in Lancashire, England, Wednesday evening has destroyed vital materials used to make workwear for National Health Service and other frontline medical workers.
Eight fire engines and 50 firefighters from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene of a single-story building in Adlington, where they battled the conflagration until the early hours of Thursday morning.
No one was hurt in the fire, though residents were advised to stay away from the area and keep windows and doors closed because of lingering smoke.
“The majority of the fire has been extinguished however crews are still putting water on hot spot areas and small pockets of fire,” a statement from the fire service read. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.
The warehouse was part of Pincroft Dyeing and Printing, the main supplier for Chorley-based workwear manufacturer Carrington Textiles, which churns out more than 38 million yards of fabric every year.
Because of high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant amount of the company’s greige stock had been moved to Pincroft to prepare it for processing into medical uniforms, according to managing director Neil Davey.
“We did lose some greige in the fire and are currently organising replacement stocks to be flown into the U.K. at pace, ensuring that we fill any possible gaps in raw material supplies,” he said in a statement.
Because the blaze was confined to the greige store in the rear of the site, however, Pincroft remains “fully operational” without any damage to the “factory or any plant and machinery,” Davey added.
Pincroft employees had been working on an antiviral fabric coating, applied to a reusable snood, that Carrington claims guarantees a 360-degree and 96 percent protection against airborne viruses such as influenza, the common cold, MERS, SARS and COVID-19.
The product, which serves as an alternative to disposable face masks, serves as a barrier that “attracts, traps and kills” viruses in airborne droplets 15 times smaller than the width of a human hair, “so it’s safe to wear and touch as the virus will become inactive after touching the fabric,” the company said.
But Carrington says completed snoods were not affected by the fire, and despite the setback it will press on as normal.
“Please rest assured of our continuing operations and our focus on providing our customers with the same high levels of service that they have come to expect from us,” Davey said.