FIREFIGHTERS prevented a huge explosion after battling a fire in a tool shed containing butane gas cylinders.

Drivers struggled through the haze near Porters Grange Roundabout, off Southchurch Road, and a cottage had to be evacuated.

The blaze had started in a tool shed at the back of a building in Warrior Square East which was filled with butane cylinders. Three fire engines were called to the scene at about 4.10pm todaywhere they could be seen working in an alley by a car rental outlet.

They worked to quickly get the flames under control to prevent the cylinders catching alight and causing an explosion.

A nearby resident who didn’t want to be named, was shocked by how high the flames seemed to be spreading.

She said: “The smoke just started out of the blue. I couldn’t see out of my window. The fire seemed very big. I wonder how a fire could start so suddenly like that. It was nearby shops so I was worried they would go up. The flames were quite high.”

Sub-officer Paul Copeland, from Leigh fire station, said: “It was alight when we got here, flames were licking over the top of the building.

“There were 13 officers here in total and the fire was extinguished very quickly. “No one was injured but smoke had spread to adjacent building. Although it was not being effected we evacuated for safety.

“Fire investigations are being carried on at the out to find out the cause.”