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West End Extra - by TOM FOOT
Published: 4 May 2007
500 evacuated after cylinders explosion

MORE than 500 people were evacuated from Marylebone on Monday after a fireball tore through an office block in George Street.
The blaze followed an explosion of an acetylene cylinder on the third floor.
No one was hurt but 14 women and children were given emergency accommodation and a 200-metre hazard zone was set up.
No residents within the zone could stay at their home.
The council set up an emergency rest area at Seymour Leisure Centre where housing and social workers were on hand to offer advice and help provide overnight bed and breakfast accommodation.
The exclusion zone was lifted at midday on Tuesday morning.
Westminster Council’s Civil Contingency chief Mike Wilkins said: “Due to the size of the exclusion zone this incident affected a large number of people and posed many problems. I’m grateful to all who worked so hard throughout the night.”
London Fire Brigade is carrying out a campaign around the use and storage of acetlyine cylinders.
A spokesman said: “A fire involving acetylene cylinders causes major disruption in the capital on average once a month. Because of the risk of explosion an exclusion zone of 200 metres radius is set up every time these cylinders are in danger of exploding at a fire.
“If a gas cylinder explodes following a fire the resulting dangers can include a travelling fireball, flying glass and structural damage to nearby buildings.
“Acetylene presents a unique risk in comparison to all other bottled gases due to its instability. Heating or mechanical shock can cause spontaneous internal heating.
“The risk of explosion remains for 24 hours, unlike all other gases which are safe once the initial fire has been extinguished. In the past whole cylinders and fragments have travelled for 175 metres.”

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