Monday, 29 Nov 2021

Morrisons warehouse gutted by fire after robots collide sparking massive blaze

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A major blaze broke out in Ocado’s south London warehouse yesterday after three robots collided.

Around 100 firefighters were called in to tackle the fire at the warehouse in Erith, which also handles logistic for Morrisons. Some 220,000 orders a week are processed through the warehouse, and many customers’ weekly shops were delayed or cancelled.

The massive Church Manorway warehouse had to be evacuated, and at the height of the incident 15 fire engines from across London were involved.

Local fire station Commander Steve Vydelingum said:"Firefighters worked hard in hot and arduous conditions inside the warehouse. Around 800 staff [were] evacuated before the Brigade arrived."

Steve continued: “There were no reports of any injuries. The fire is very deep seated and firefighters will continue to be at the scene into Saturday (July 17) damping down hot spots."

“The Brigade was called at 12:42,” he added, “and the fire was under control by 02:17.

“Fire crews from Bexley, Plumstead, Millwall, Lee Green, Greenwich, Eltham fire stations were at the scene."

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Although the company put out an announcement on social media explaining the problem, Ocado customers were quick to complain about the disruption.

Steve Cook tweeted: “Being left without food once in 18 months is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action,” adding that he was going to stop shopping at the posh peoples’ supermarket.

Simon Hix was oblivious to the cause of the problem, tweeting “Ocado just cancelled our delivery today. Completely out of the blue. Never done that before (in 10+ years). Usually fantastic service. Very odd. Anyone else had the same?"

Xanthe Dixon was more understanding, chipping in with: “We were one of the cancelled shops- it’s ok- things happen- just hope everyone. Is ok and safe/ well and stress levels are moderate to low.”

Chris Hogwood was first to launch a conspiracy theory about the blaze, playfully tweeting: “Don’t believe the PR cover up. A T-800 was sent back in time by resistance leader John Connor to stop Judgment Day. He succeeded.”

An Ocado spokesperson told the Daily Star that the incident appeared to have been caused "by the collision of three bots on the grid resulting in a fire." The correct protocols were successfully implemented including the evacuation of the building, the activation of the sprinkler system and the presence of the London Fire Brigade. "

"No one has been injured and all colleagues on site are safe," they added. The damage is limited to a small section of less than 1% of the grid having been contained by planned fire attenuation measures.

"Aside from some residual smoke smell, the vast majority of the CFC is in good condition. While we expect some disruption to operations, we are working to restore normal service as soon as possible. We expect the facility to begin operating within the coming week.

"We would like to thank the London Fire Brigade and all the other emergency services for their hard work and professionalism in dealing with this incident.

A similar incident which took place at one of Ocado’s giant robotic warehouses in Andover, Hampshire in February 2019 caused delivery chaos for days and significantly dented Ocado’s share price.

  • Morrisons
  • Fire
  • Robots

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