ONE of Bradford’s best-known businesses has pledged to get all production lines back up and running "as soon as possible" after a major fire damaged its factory.

Princes Soft Drinks has thanked the fire service for its quick response to the blaze, which sent thick black smoke billowing over homes and fields near the premises in Toftshaw Lane, Tong.

The resulting damage left a number of areas of production out of action, although Princes said some had since "recommenced" and added that its warehouse was "operating normally."

More than 60 firefighters from Bradford and across West Yorkshire were called to the factory at 10.15pm on Tuesday.

The fire had started in an area of the factory, measuring 100 metres by 50 metres, containing machinery that produces plastic bottles.

Workers at the factory, which was operating at the time, called the fire service as soon as they noticed something was wrong.

Ten fire engines and two aerial appliances from across the county were called to the scene, carrying more than 60 firefighters, with the crews managing to stop the fire spreading to other areas of the factory, and containing the blaze within two hours.

One witness said she saw huge plumes of black smoke coming from the factory.

Mick Mawson, crew commander at Bradford fire station, said the building was “damaged but not destroyed”.

He said: “We had appliances coming from all over the district, Bradford, Odsal, Shipley and even Leeds.

“The fire was in part of the factory responsible for manufacturing plastic pop bottles.

“We managed to get in there and prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the building.

“We had the whole thing under control in about two hours.

“We don’t know the cause yet, it was probably something that went wrong in the manufacturing process.

“There were workers in the building, so luckily the fire was discovered very quickly.

“The building was damaged but not destroyed. It has mainly damaged the contents and an amount of plastic.”

The fire service had a large presence on the site until 1am, and two crews stayed at the factory to damp down the building and prevent the fire from restarting.

Six water jets were used to tackle the fire, and on arrival crews carried out a thorough search of the building as it was thought people may be trapped inside, but nobody was found to be trapped.

The fire service’s investigations team is currently looking into the cause of the blaze.

A spokesperson for Princes said: “The fire at our Bradford site on Tuesday evening was quickly attended and extinguished by the fire brigade.

“There were no injuries, and all employees are safe. We are assisting the relevant authorities with their investigation.

“We are thankful to the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for their response and also to our staff for an orderly and safe evacuation.

“Some areas of production have recommenced and our warehouse is operating normally.

“We are hoping to have all other production lines back up and running as soon as possible, and will keep our employees and customers informed as the situation progresses.”

One resident, who lived in Toftshaw Lane close to the factory, said she was first aware of a problem when she saw fire engines turning up at the factory.

She said: “There was loads of thick black smoke billowing out right across the valley.

“I wasn’t too worried, I was more intrigued about what was happening really. I went out in my car to try and see what was going on.”

The Bradford factory is Princes’ largest soft drinks production site in the UK, producing carbonated soft drinks in a large variety of flavours and pack formats. It also produces the Barracloughs range of traditional drinks, and the Geebee fruit-flavoured soft drinks.

Princes describes the Bradford site as its “centre of excellence for fruit squash.”