Fire hits factory owned by maker of Grenfell Tower cladding panels

A factory owned by the maker of Grenfell Tower's cladding panels has caught fire.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service was called to the production plant of Arconic in Exeter just before 1.30am on Saturday.

The US firm produces the Reynobond PE panels, used as one component of the west London block's cladding system during a refurbishment.

It is suspected that the material, which is coated in aluminium but has a plastic, flammable core, helped fuel the blaze in June.

Fire crews rushed to the factory on Kestral Way following reports of a fire in the casting plant at its foundry section.

The fire service said: "Due to the potential serious nature of this incident and knowledge of the type of building involved, fire control made the decision to redirect fire appliances from other lower priority incidents in the area to ensure fire service resources were in attendance as soon as possible."

Eight fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze, which started accidentally, along with additional support vehicles.

By 2.30am, the fire had spread to part of the roof of the factory, but firefighters using breathing apparatus brought it under control and extinguished it before 3am.

The factory's furnace area was damaged by the fire and smoke, but no-one was injured.

In June, Arconic announced it was stopping global sales of Reynobond PE cladding for tall buildings, citing concerns about the "inconsistency of building codes across the world".

It said in a separate statement that the panels were provided to a company which supplied them to the facade installer working on behalf of the contractor for Grenfell Tower's refurbishment.

The company wrote at the time: "We were not involved in the installation of the system, nor did we have a role in any other aspect of the building's refurbishment or original design."

It is understood that Reynobond panels were not produced at the the branch of Arconic affected by the blaze.

A spokesman said: "There was a small fire at our Exeter facility this morning, which on-site and other safety personnel quickly contained.

"No one was hurt and the fire had a limited impact on the facility, which produces investment castings for aerospace and industrial use. The plant is back at full production."

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