HOMES had to be evacuated after a fire badly damaged a garage near Ledbury.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at Eastwood Garage, the home of Ledbury Van Centre, at around 9.30am today, Tuesday.

Despite the best efforts of garage owner, Tony Sheppy, to extinguish the blaze himself, the fire soon got out of hand and the fire service had to be called.

Although the blaze was contained to the garage, which measures 20 metres by 10 metres, fire crews had to evacuate a number of surrounding properties due to the presence of three gas cylinders which were first believed to con - tain highly dangerous acet - ylene.

A 200 metre cordon was set up and the A438 road was closed in case of an explosion, but fire crews discovered the cylinders contained oxy-propane which was less of a hazard.

Jon Butlin, the station commander, said: “The quick actions of the firefighters meant that the fire could be contained to the garage alone and didn’t spread to anywhere else, such as the garage owner’s house which is close by.

“The owner of the garage was working in the garage when the fire broke out, and he tried to extinguish it himself before it became apparent that fire crews were needed.

“Firefighters used foam to extinguish the flames and although the three cylin - ders were well engulfed by the flames, there were no explosions and no one was injured.”

Residents were able to re - turn home soon after the smoke had died down at around midday, and officers remained at the scene damping down.

At the height of the blaze, five fire engines, one fire investigation officer, one environmental protection officer and one hazard - ous materials officer were needed on scene.

It is not yet known how the fire started and Ledbury Van Centre remains open for business.

  • More pictures in this Thursday's Hereford Times.