The UK headquarters of international company Whirlpool were the victims of suspected arson last week, resulting in up to £2 million worth of damage.
Who is Whirlpool and what happened at their HQ?
Whirlpool is an international group which owns many home appliance manufacturer brands. This includes Indesit and market leader Hotpoint. The UK headquarters for these brands are all at the Whirlpool head office, located in Peterborough. Unfortunately, a blaze spread across 48 trailers parked by the factory on the evening of 29th August. It took around 55 firefighters over 3 hours to tame the fire. Plumes of black smoke were visible from miles away as the lorry trailers burned. Apparently, they contained appliance parts, and despite the extensive damage on the property, nobody was injured. Ironically, Whirlpool is involved in an ongoing scandal concerning unsafe appliances which can cause fires.
What have Peterborough residents said about the Whirlpool fire?
Witnesses in the area described hearing explosions from the site and a disgusting smell as ash fell from the sky from billowing clouds of black smoke. Police established a cordon and evacuated the immediate area. Nobody was hurt, but the emergency services advised residents to keep their doors and windows closed because of the smoke and ash in the air. There were temporary road closures on the surrounding roads, but they have since re-opened. The Whirlpool offices were still open for business.
What have firefighters and police said about the Whirlpool fire?
Karl Bowden, the group commander for the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, described the burnt lorry trailers as containing parts for fridges and washing machines and fridges. They were gutted by the fire by the time the firefighters got the blaze under control, causing millions of pounds worth of damage. Emergency services stayed at the site overnight to keep inspecting it for hotspots. The explosions that witnesses described hearing were tyres popping off the rims on the burning lorries. Following the blaze, police have arrested 5 teenagers as part of their investigation into its cause. The 15-19-year-olds have either been bailed or released subject to further inquiries.
What has Whirlpool said about the fire?
A spokesperson for Whirlpool made a statement regarding the incident. They confirmed that nobody was injured in the fire and it did not damage any of the actual buildings on the site. Operations will continue as normal for the 1,000 Whirlpool employees who work at the headquarters. Whirlpool offered their thanks to the emergency services who handled the blaze and apologies to the local residents who were inconvenienced by the disruption. They specified that 52 out of 110 of the heavy-goods vehicle trailers parked on the Whirlpool site were affected by the fire, which is almost half of them.