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Astleys Carries On Despite Blaze

Coventry's oldest family firm have told customers that it is business as usual following an arson attack at their city centre factory

The fire is believed to have been started in a den made by children next to the site in Gosford Street occupied by John Astley and Sons, who supply tools, workwear and industrial consumables.

It quickly spread to an outbuilding at 7.30pm on Wednesday, but was brought under control in the early hours of this morning.

Directors and staff, who spent much of the night on site with fire officers, are still assessing the extent of the damage.

Jonathan Astley, sales director of the company's Industrial Consumables division, said:

"The building housed several containers of swimming pool chemicals, which were slightly damaged by the fire and have now been removed to be safely dealt with.

“The building itself has been completely destroyed and the debris will be cleared as quickly as possible."

Mr Astley said that early reports of asbestos and white spirit being stored in the building were incorrect:

"No asbestos materials were kept there, but the walls were constructed from bonded cement sheets containing some low-grade asbestos fibre, of a type widely used in workshops and garages.

“Environmental health officers from the city council have now checked the surrounding area thoroughly and we understand it has been given the all-clear."

Contractors specialising in asbestos removal have been cleaning up the small amount of dust and debris deposited on nearby car parks.

Officers from the Environment Agency also visited the site to ensure that no chemicals had leaked into drains or watercourses.

Mick Hyde, environmental protection team leader, said:

"To the best of our knowledge, nothing has reached the river and the chemical containers have now been removed for safe disposal."

Mr Astley said the firm was trading as normal, serving local customers at its sales counter in Gosford Street and handling orders from other clients across the region.

He added:

"We have been doing business in Coventry since 1730 and survived the destruction of our shop when the city was bombed, so this is no more than a small setback."


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CWN / Business / A-Z / Astleys / 21 Jul 00

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