Firefighters battled to contain a fire that had broken out in a car body shop, with crews from at least four fire stations working throughout the night to contain the flames.

People living in properties neighbouring the commercial estate in Thrupp, near Stroud, said that they became aware of a “funny smell” at around 7pm on Monday evening. By 7.30pm fire and rescue teams were charging to the scene of the fire.

The strong smell of chemicals were one of the first things that many approaching the incident remarked on, and the source is believed to have been the chemical used in the body workshop, and tyres stacked to the side of the premises.

Visibility was also reduced in the valley, with think black smoke billowing as far as Brimscombe and Bowbridge.

One firefighter said that by the time they arrived at Autocraft Services at Stafford Mill on the A419 “the fire had taken considerable hold” of the single-story building.

Over the next five hours crews from Stroud, Nailsworth, Cirencester and Tetbury worked together to dampen the flames, which could be seen leaping above the roof of the building from a considerable distance.

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Additionally. noxious fumes from the fire could be smelled across the other side of Stroud, a distance of at least two miles away.

“I came out of my house at about 7pm and smelled something a bit like fireworks,” a resident close to the business said.

“When I popped back out again about half an hour later I could see flames, and that’s when the fire engines started arriving.”

While fire and rescue officers worked at the scene of the fire under the watchful eye of ambulance teams who were on standby should the situation take a turn for the worse, police officers from Stroud joined their colleagues to close the road and ensure that curious spectators kept to a safe distance.

At one point, at around 10pm, the few people who had gathered at the scene trying to get home, or curious to understand what was happening, were asked to move a further 10 metres or so from the scene as flames could clearly be seen bursting through the roof, that was burning bright red with heat in places.

Initially, the road was closed from the traffic lights by the Bowbridge Arms half a mile from the incident, and those on foot were prevented from approaching the scene.

However, later in the evening the road block was moved closer to Thrupp Lane and residents were escorted to their properties by police or fire officers to ensure their safety.

“They were adamant that no one was coming through,” one witness who watched the scene from their front garden said. “A woman went into labour, her waters broke and everything, but they couldn’t let her through to get to the hospital, they had to travel up through the back lanes and villages to get to the hospital. They’ll have quite a story to tell their child when it’s old enough!”

Ian Tonner, area manager for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed that no one had been hurt in the incident, and explained the full extent of the fire.

He said: “We were called at around 7.30pm by a member of the public informing us of a fire at commercial premises on London Road in Thrupp, near Stroud.

“On arrival, crews found a car repair shop well alight.

“Nine crews from across the county battled through the evening to bring the fire under control, using five jets, four breathing apparatus and an aerial platform as a water tower. Thankfully, no one was in the building.”

While firefighters tackled the flames using specialist equipment, and police supported them by ensuring that the scene was secure and members of the public were safe, teams from Western Power Distribution were on hand to manage the inevitable power outage, while ambulance crew members stayed alert a few metres from the burning buildings to take action should anyone be injured.

GFRS area manager Ian Tonner confirmed that through the hard work of the dozens of emergency personnel that the fire was contained by midnight on Monday, and although neighbouring businesses were affected the worst damage had been sustained by the car bodywork company.

“The single story building was 90 per cent damaged by fire,” he said.

“Although the fire was under control by midnight, crews remained on scene until this morning to damp down and make the structure safe.”

Once the flames were extinguished the teams used specialist equipment and metal cutters to carefully cut panels from the corrugated roofing, all from the safety of precisely positioned aerial platforms, while colleagues trained hoses on the building ready to react to any sudden reignition of the flames.

Long poles with angled mirrors were then lowered through the holes to ensure that the building was safe for crews to continue their work.

Their meticulous work, under the watchful eye of an incident commander, continued overnight until the building was deemed safe and the busy commuter road could be reopened.

By first light commuters were able to use the A419 Stroud to Cirencester road, but the one crew, believed to be from Stroud Fire and Rescue Station, remained at the site, some 12 hours after the emergency services were first called, and they were joined by teams looking to establish the cause of the fire.

The owners of the business are also understood to be working with the fire service, and neighbouring businesses have also been allowed into their properties to ascertain whether their buildings, and businesses, had been impacted.

For more pictures of the scene click here.