More than 100 fire-fighters have now attended the scene of the blaze, which has destroyed around 50% of Polestar’s work-in-progress storage facility at its Chaucer Business Park site in Launton Road, Bicester.
Employees on site tried to contain the blaze, believed to have started on a gas-powered forklift truck, but the fire and rescue service was called at around 1am. No-one was hurt.
Speaking from the scene, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue’s Rewley Road station manager David Bray told PrintWeek that the “temporary” nature of the building, which comprised a “heavy-duty plastic roof material”, meant that clearing work was needed for the fire-fighters to gain access.
“The fire is now under control but because it is still smoldering and the building is falling in on itself we now have specialist contractors removing the steel structure so that we can get in and get the huge piles and pallets of print to stop smoldering,” he explained.
He added: “I would imagine we will be here for at least the next 24 hours.”
Bray said half of the storage facility had been lost but that crews had managed to save the remaining 50%. He added: “Most importantly we’ve saved all the other buildings around it.”
Bray confirmed that no printing equipment was in the affected building and that work was continuing at Polestar. “They are working round us and we are working around them.”
Polestar was unavailable for comment.
Among the raft of business, glossy and consumer titles printed at the site is free publication Time Out, of which more than 225,000 copies were destroyed, forcing the publisher to delay distribution until Thursday.
Time Out managing director Greg Miall said: “This is the first time that this kind of situation has arisen in over 44 years of production and whilst some magazines survived, we will not be able to distribute as usual until Thursday this week.
“We are just grateful that no-one was hurt in the incident and ask that our readers and users continue to use our website and continue to engage with us through our social networks and through comments and reviews.”
The fire is believed to have been accidental and an investigation is underway.