A major fire which ripped through a former cattle market and led to gas cylinders exploding has destroyed several businesses.
The blaze broke out in Nottingham’s Cattle Market at about 18:00 GMT on Sunday, engulfing several buildings.
A reptile retailer had to evacuate 200 animals from its premises, while one employee said there were “nothing but ashes” left of the bedding outlet where he worked.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
About 100 firefighters tackled the fire, which was brought under control in the early hours of the morning. Damping down is ongoing.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said tackling the blaze was “a real challenge”, with densely-packed buildings, gas cylinders and a limited water supply.
Incident commander Bryn Coleman added: “The buildings are close together and it was a dynamic situation.
“Because of the amount of material involved in the buildings, we had problems with the water pressure from the fire hydrants and had to use a high pressure pump to get water from the canal.”
Mr Coleman confirmed they “had a conversation” with the owners of a military surplus store to confirm there was no ammunition involved.
The fire service said four premises had been destroyed, with another nine damaged to varying extents.
The worse affected include Bed City, SB refrigeration, Fresh N Fruity, D&B Carburetters and Anchor Supplies.
The only injury reported was one man – who was reportedly bitten by a snake while moving livestock from the exotic pet business.
Richard Wragg, who runs a cold storage unit nearby, described how reptiles had to be evacuated from one business.
“They said to the owner [of the reptile business], ‘You are going to have to get them all out’,” he said.
“So 200 reptiles to evacuate in the space of about 20 minutes is a bit interesting.
“So it was just a mad dash ferrying them from their unit to our unit.”
One lizard was so large it had to be moved in a shopping trolley, he added.
A number of other businesses in the Cattle Market, including Arthur Johnson and Sons Auctioneers and the 4am Cafe, have not been directly affected.
Dave Hughes, manager of wholesaler Flower Vision said the flames got to within a metre of their building.
“We were so lucky [the fire service] did a great job saving all the businesses they did.
“I was pretty worried, it was scary how close the flames got.”
Roads are still closed in the area and shifts at a nearby Royal Mail distribution centre have been disrupted, affecting deliveries in parts of Nottingham.
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