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A COVID megalab has been evacuated and one person is missing after Leamington Spa was rocked by a series of explosions and a massive fire.
The hub has been evacuated after black smoke billowed from the warehouse next door – amid claims the toxic-smelling plumes made locals vomit.
Those living closest have been evacuated – and cops say one person is still “unaccounted for”.
The horror unfolded this morning at Leeson Polyurethenes Ltd, which stands next to the town’s Rosalind Franklin Covid “mega-testing” lab.
It’s been confirmed this afternoon that workers testing samples were rushed to safety “as a precautionary measure”.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Staff at the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory have been evacuated as a precautionary measure and all emergency incident protocols are being followed in order to protect their safety.
“We continue to work closely with the fire and emergency services on this ongoing incident and testing will resume as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
And the huge warehouse next door to the lab has been devastated by the fire, which caused black polystyrene to rain down on homes and could be seen for more than 20 miles.
The air ambulance has been called to the scene, although it’s not yet known if anyone was injured.
There have been reports of blasts at the site – with some saying the explosions were so strong they rattled the windows.
Others said there are “strong chemical-like smells” and the sky “is dark with smoke and ash”.
One Twitter user snapped photos of a flake of ash that had fallen beside her on a bench 11 miles away.
Meanwhile, police are evacuating those living nearest the blaze and warning others to stay indoors with their windows shut.
Firefighters say members of the public must keep at least 100 metres away.
A resident said the sound of the explosions was like “a bomb going off”.
Stephen Morris, 48, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
“We were in the garden earlier and heard what sounded like a bomb go off.
“It was like a loud pop. The next thing you know, there’s a massive cloud of black smoke rising into the sky.
“It was like something from that film Independence Day.
“It’s just lingering over the entire town now and I’ve never known so much police and fire activity here. They must have sent every appliance they have to it.
It was like something from the film Independence Day
Stephen Morris, 48
“I heard that people were getting sick as the smoke is toxic.”
Matt Western, Warwick and Leamington’s MP, said that the fire and fumes may “involve chemicals” from the nearby plastics businesses.
He told followers: “Massive fire on Tachbrook Industrial Estate.
“Extremely serious. Hearing it may involve chemicals from plastics business unit. Please close windows and stay indoors. Will update as I hear more.”
An eye-witness said: “Drove past and people have their heads in their hand and being sick. Air ambulance just arrived. Grim.”
And another said the “huge fire” was “getting bigger by the minute.”
‘SKY TURNS BLACK WITH ASH’
She added: “Helicopters circling and hearing explosions now. Praying nobody is hurt.”
One social media user who posted a photo said the fire is “apocalyptic”.
Public Health West Mids has issued advice to residents as the fire continues to burn through the industrial site.
Officials say: “People in areas affected by smoke from the fire should stay indoors, keep doors and windows closed and check the local radio for advice.
“Motorists should keep their windows closed, turn on air con and keep air vents closed.”
Public Health West Midlands are also advising local residents to limit their time outdoors in the area as smoke and ash fill the air.
Officials said: “Substances in smoke can worsen health problems like asthma and heart conditions, so people should carry their medication if near the fire in Leamington Spa.
“Smoke can irritate airways, skin and eyes and cause coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain. Get medical advice if affected.”
A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: “Emergency services are currently in attendance at a fire at a premises in Juno Drive, Leamington.
“Road closures are currently in place. Please keep windows and doors closed.”
EXPLOSIONS ‘RATTLE WINDOWS’
West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We received a call to a significant fire on Juno Drive in Leamington Spa at 10.38am.
“We currently have two paramedic officers and Hazardous Area Response Team at the scene.
“If you live within 70 metres of the site, please keep windows and doors closed.”
They added: “This is an industrial premise approximately 50m x 30m and well alight. We have multiple appliances in attendance, including 12 pumps and two aerial appliances.
“We will issue updates as we get the information from fire control who are busy dealing with the incident.”