17th July 2015 Cheshire flour mill explosion: Major incident declared.

Cheshire police have declared a major incident at the Wood Flour Mills site, in Bosley, south of Macclesfield.  Fifteen fire engines and approximately 70 fire fighters from Cheshire Fire and Emergency Services attended the scene after they were called at 09.10 on 17th July 2015

Paul Hancock, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer, told a press conference  that 20 people were believed to be in the factory at the time of the blast. Search and rescue teams must wait for crews to deal with a number of ongoing fires before they can venture inside the four-storey building.  They are "believed to still be in the building," Mr Hancock told reporters, adding that emergency services would continue to search for them.

Although the majority of the fire had been extinguished, "pockets" remained with the search and rescue operation complicated by acetylene gas cylinders on the site.

Multiple casualties were reported, with North West Ambulance Service confirming to The Independent at the time that at least four people had been taken to hospital.

A spokesperson for the West Midlands Ambulance Service said that one 29-year-old woman had been airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham after she suffered "serious burns and blast injuries to her head, face, arms and chest." The woman was given pain relief and immobilised at the scene before a trauma doctor continued treatment en route to Birmingham.

One person had been airlifted to Whiston Hospital in Manchester suffering from burns and two were taken by ambulance to the Royal Stoke University Hospital.

In a statement Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said that fire fighters were dealing with a "dangerous situation as they cannot rule out further explosions”. The incident involved the collapse of a four-storey building.  There was a fully developed fire in several areas."

Four people were thought to be in the wood treatment plant, Cheshire police confirmed to The Independent.  However, the "vast majority" of staff at the factory were believed to be safe.  

Thirty-five walking wounded were assessed by emergency services at the scene and four were treated at the scene for breathing difficulties.  A further four people were taken to hospital for treatment.

Eyewitness Charli Alston, 18, described "massive plumes of flames," reaching into the sky and hearing a "huge bang" as she walked her dog nearby.

There were “multiple casualties,” according to the council's statement, and residents as far as Wildboarclough had been warned to keep their doors and windows shut to avoid inhaling the clouds of smoke from the on-going fires.

Fire officials were called to the scene at around 9.10am during the morning of 17th July, with fire engines from Congleton, Bollington, Winsford, Crewe and Macclesfield being drawn into the rescue operation.  There was also aerial assistance from Macclesfield and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

North West Ambulance Service dispatched at least six ambulances, two rapid response vehicles, two doctors, four managers, Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and air ambulance to the Bosley mill during this time.

Story collated by Liz Turnbull.

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