A huge blaze at a plastics factory last week caused explosions and a massive plume of black smoke, visible for miles around, leading to the evacuation of nearby homes.
Anyone living within 500 metres of the industrial estate in Leamington Spa, which is surrounded by residential areas, was urged to keep windows and doors closed and homes within 100 metres were evacuated.
Local media reported cases of people vomiting from the fumes and a large amount of charred plastic debris from the fire falling over a sizeable area. Dramatic footage on social media highlights the scale of the incident.
Emergency workers are still unable to enter the site at Leeson Polyurethanes to search for a missing man. Warwickshire Police have said that “a specialist search operation will commence as soon as it is safe to do so.” They added that it would be “a very thorough and complex operation which may take a number of days to complete.”
The cause of this incident is not yet confirmed and is currently under investigation, but the Chief Fire Officer from the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has suggested that vats of chemicals caught in the fire were likely responsible for the explosions.
The incident highlights the extent to which factors beyond our control can have major ramifications, affecting not only our homes but also our tenants’ ability to live in them – Leamington’s massive fire has already forced eight people to move out of their homes so far.
Steve Barnes, Associate Director at LandlordZONE insurance partner, Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance, says: “As a landlord, no matter how much care you take over preventative measures to reduce the risks of anything going wrong in your property which could affect your tenants’ ability to live there, it’s just not possible to eliminate risk entirely.
“That’s why it’s so important to make sure you have comprehensive landlord insurance cover in place. Both our Essential and Premier policies cover loss of rent or alternative accommodation should a tenant be required to evacuate a property.”
How often do explosions force tenants to evacuate?
Explosions affecting residential properties are rare, but when they do occur it is generally due to gas leaks.
As we approach Gas Safety Week later this month (13 – 19 September), it’s important to make sure you’re compliant with gas safety regulations. Penalties for landlords who fail to comply are severe, and if a tenant dies while staying in your property due to negligence, you could be prosecuted for manslaughter and sentenced to time in prison.
Steve Barnes adds: “The best ways to prevent yourself from facing the justifiably harsh penalties for non-compliance with gas safety, are to make sure you schedule a gas safety check at least once a year and to keep a record of your Gas Safety Certificates and checks.
“If you use an agent to manage your property, make sure that your contract states who is responsible for what and that your agent provides you and your tenants with new Gas Safety Certificates on at least an annual basis. If you have any questions about how gas safety might affect your insurance policy, feel free to contact our team on 0800 63 43 880. Our policy will cover most eventualities but does not include incidences of faulty workmanship or any pre-existing defects or damage or wear and tear.”
For more information on landlords’ responsibilities for gas safety, including what to do if your tenants prevent you from carrying out a gas safety check, read Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s newly updated Ultimate guide to gas safety and landlord gas safety certificates.
As a valued LandlordZONE reader you’re entitled to 20% off Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s policies, call the team today on 0800 63 43 880 quoting code LZ2021 or get a quote online in under 4 minutes.
Pic credit: Twitter via @justynjj