POLICE and fire teams are still investigating the cause of a blaze that destroyed an empty factory in Ilkeston on Sunday.
Nearby residents were evacuated, roads were closed and cordons put in place as 40 firefighters tackled the flames at the former Yeomans Joinery premises on Providence Place, off Bath Street.
Crews from Ilkeston arrived on scene within minutes after being called just before 10am.
Blue watch manager Rob Mears said: “As we left the station we could see the plumes of black smoke so knew it was well developed.
“Our initial concern was that the fire may spread to neighbouring properties but we got a fire break in place to stop that from happening.”
An aerial ladder was used by crews to put out flames and nearby homes and the New Inn pub were evacuated as a safety measure.
Police are investigating witness reports that a man was seen running from the building just after the fire started.
The building’s owner Reg Yeomans, told the Advertiser that the property, which is up for sale, is not insured after a series of recent break-ins.
The building has been empty since the firm moved to new premises on Regent Street.
One eyewitness, Simon Fretwell, said: “I looked out of the window and could see the black smoke filling the sky.
“I went down to have a look and there were policemen and firefighters everywhere.
“It was a big fire but they seemed to have it under control pretty quickly.”
Firefighters were on scene for more than three hours.
After the flames were out, investigations into the cause began and a structural engineer assessed the site.