AN INVESTIGATION to find out what started a major blaze at a car workshop in Bradford is likely to take some time.

A fire service spokesman said it was still early days in the probe to uncover exactly what had happened at Bradford BM Ltd in Priestman Street, Manningham on Tuesday night.

At its peak, eight fire crews from across the district were at the scene amid fears people nearby were at risk of asbestos exposure.

Residents in surrounding streets were told to stay indoors with their windows and doors shut.


Despite that advice, a large crowd of bystanders gathered outside a police cordon to watch the drama unfold. Part of the workshop's roof collapsed and the structure will now have to be demolished.

Police said they were called by the fire service to help with crowd control after a number of onlookers turned up. Officers had set up a cordon and also called at nearby houses to check on any vulnerable people.

As fire crews battled the flames and thick smoke choked the area, Bradford Council's emergency planning officer and structural engineer were also called in to give guidance after the fire broke out at around 6.30pm.

The Environment Agency also attended because of the large amount of smoke over the residential area.

Crews were still at the workshop yesterday morning making sure the scene was safe. The company's representatives, who were also there, would not give their names and did not wish to talk to the Telegraph & Argus.

A fire service spokesman said: "It is still under investigation. It's early days yet. It could take some time before the cause is known."

Some homes had their gas and electricity supplies disrupted during the fire.

One resident whose home was affected was Anthony Ellerton, 48, of Salt Street. He and other residents made glasses of juice to keep fire crews and police hydrated.

Mr Ellerton said: "I was at the top of town near Lumb Lane when I could see smoke up in the sky. I managed to pinpoint it to coming from where my house was and panicked.

"By the time I got up here all the neighbours were saying to get inside and that the police had been round telling everyone to get indoors and shut all our doors and windows. It was a bit late for me, I'd left mine open while I was out and some smoke had got in. I'm asthmatic.

"You can still see the black round the window. The fire crews had a big ladder and four big spotlights on top of the engine to help them."

Another man, who did not want to be named, said he had dropped his car off about 3.30pm at the workshop on Tuesday and been told it would be ready to pick up the next day.

Around 15 cars were believed to have been involved in the fire but the extent of the damage to any of the vehicles was not clear.