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Ocado deliveries disrupted by ‘small fire’ at London facility

By Alys Key, PA City Reporter

Ocado has said a fire which broke out at its south-east London facility on Wednesday night caused disruption to some of its food deliveries.

The online grocer said a “small fire” was reported just outside the building in Erith, in a container for waste packaging.

London Fire Brigade extinguished the blaze, but the disruption has led to some customer orders being cancelled.

Affected shoppers will be offered the chance to re-book for Friday.

It is the second fire reported at an Ocado facility this year. In February the group’s warehouse in Andover, Hampshire, was destroyed in a blaze.

Firefighters tackle the blaze at the Ocado robotic warehouse in Andover, Hampshire (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ocado said on Thursday that no part of its material handling equipment was involved in the fire.

“The fire suppression measures in place performed as intended and the fire did not spread,” the company said.

“We would like to thank the London Fire Brigade for their assistance.”.

A representative for the London Fire Brigade said a conveyor belt and external motor had been damaged by the fire, but the activation of a sprinkler had limited its spread.

“This incident highlights the clear benefits of sprinklers to businesses and we would urge all companies and business owners to install them,” they said.

Concerns were raised earlier this year about the cause of the Andover fire, but Ocado insisted it did not pose a threat to the group’s business model.

The cause was eventually determined to be an electrical fault at one of the first-generation battery-charging units at the edge of an ambient storage grid.

The battery-charging units in question were only used at the Andover site and not at Ocado’s other fulfilment centres.

Some minor adjustments were made to the equipment following the February incident, including the removal of a plastic lid from its robots and adding localised smoke detectors.

Shares in the company were trading as much as 3% lower on Thursday morning.