A SERIOUS blaze at a business in Leeds, which closed a main route in and out of the city, was probably accidental, fire chiefs said last night (Thursday).
Firefighters from across West Yorkshire were called to Geldards Coaches on Ashfield Way, off Whitehall Road in Farnley, just after 3pm.
The first crews responded from Morley and Hunslet fire stations, but reinforcements were quickly called for.
Around a dozen crews attended the incident from stations including Batley, Pontefract, Gipton and Stanningley.
At its height around 55 firefighters tackled the blaze, with two aerial platforms bought in to fight the fire from above.
It involved a two-storey building, containing a number of gas cylinders and a diesel storage tank, as well as a number of buses and coaches.
The fire brigade said early indications were that the cause of the fire was accidental.
Firefighters were expecting to stay at the scene possibly throughout the night, to make sure it was extinguished.
Bangs were heard and smoke could be seen billowing from the site could be seen as far away as Leeds city centre.
An eye-witness said it looked as if the fire had started in one of the garages.
He said: “It looked like a roof had blown off one of the garages. I heard some bangs and trees behind the garage have been burned.
“It looks as if there may have been a fireball.”
Assistant chief fire officer Steve Rhodes said the fire had been contained within the top end of the building, or else it would have been more serious.
He said: “There is a fire investigation team on site and we won’t get a full understanding until we have talked to everyone involved and we have actually been inside the building – but that could be quite some time.”
The blaze caused long tailbacks after the A58 Whitehall Road was closed between Lawns Lane and Branch Road and a diversion put in place.
Geldards Coaches is a privately-owned company bus company operating services around Leeds.
Founded in 1991, it operates regular cross city urban services in Leeds on a commercial basis.
It runs coach trips as well as private hire and school contracts.