COMMENT: Blaze was reminder of firefighters' outstanding professionalism

In the aftermath of yesterday's car repair workshop blaze that sent large plumes of dark smoke high into the sky over Portsmouth, there is one overriding feeling - relief.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:00 am

Of course we appreciate the enormous impact on owner Trevor Byng, who had to watch helplessly as his business was destroyed by the flames.

But this fire had the potential to become much more serious and affect many more people if it wasn't for the firefighters who rushed to the scene.

Conditions were very dangerous and unpredictable, with gas cylinders that could explode at any moment needing to be removed and people living nearby having to be evacuated from their homes for their own safety.

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Residents were led to nearby Priory School, which acted as a refuge for 51 adults, 18 toddlers and babies - and two cats. Staff and pupils moved to the school’s sports hall and tennis centre.

The risk was so high that fire crews couldn't enter the Byng Autos workshop in Goldsmith Avenue, Southsea.

But the calm response of more than 60 firefighters and 10 appliances, in partnership with the police and South Central Ambulance Service, meant the fire didn't spread and potential disaster was averted.

It is at times like these that we are reminded of the magnificent but often unsung work that our emergency services do.

Video captured by resident Reece Edwards shows how the first fire engine to arrive disappeared into a wall of smoke. Those firefighters didn't hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way.

Lacey Plumbley, a Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service station manager who led the emergency service response, said: 'After arriving on the scene, instinct kicks in and you react to what you see. This is what we train for and it is all part of the job.’

We should all be hugely grateful for such outstanding professionalism.