THE evacuation zone set up last night around the Ocado warehouse blaze has now been lifted.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has confirmed this morning the evacuation area around the Ocado fire site has been lifted.

A 500m exclusion zone had been set up with residents and business evacuated.

It is no longer considered to be a major incident and roads around are the site are open, although firefighting operations continue.

Residents can now return to their homes and businesses can operate as normal, the fire service has confirmed.

A statement released by Ocado has confirmed 'pressurised refrigerants' which caused the decision to evacuate the immediate area have now all been removed from the site.

An Ocado spokesperson said: "Since our last update, the Fire Brigade has continued to work to bring the fire at Andover under control. Due to concerns over the presence of pressurised refrigerants on site, the police conducted a limited evacuation of the immediate area on Wednesday evening.

"The removal of these materials is now complete, Major Incident Status and the evacuation area have been removed, with local residents and workers now able to access the affected area as normal.

"The Fire Brigade is expected to remain on site for at least the next few days."

Roads closures around the industrial estate, including the A3093 and Walworth Road, have now been lifted.

HFRS group manager Nigel Cooper said: ‘We are pleased to have been able to safely remove the chemicals from the site throughout the night and into the early hours of this morning, meaning we can lift the evacuation zone. It is thanks to the efforts of all our teams, on the ground and elsewhere, that we managed to contain the incident when it unexpectedly escalated late yesterday afternoon."

The rescue centre at Harrow Way School was stood down overnight.

Hampshire County Council said all those residents evacuated have either been put up by family and friends or were staying in a hotel, paid for by Ocado, making the rescue centre unnecessary.

Some 60 people and 10 pets were assisted at the centre, according to British Red Cross. 

Harrow Way School is open as normal for students today.

The online supermarket giant has apologised to those affected by the incident and thanked the local community and businesses for rallying round in a time of crisis.

An Ocado spokesperson said: "We apologise to all those affected by this incident and are very thankful to the people of Andover for their understanding and support during this difficult period.

"Ocado vans with food, drink, nappies and other essentials were sent to Andover and hotel rooms were made available for those who had to leave their homes during the night.  We would like to thank the large number of local businesses that came to the assistance of the community.

"We would like to once again thank the Hampshire Fire Service, the Hampshire Police and all the other emergency services and agencies for their hard work and professionalism in dealing with this incident."

Ocado also thanked its customers for "patience and understanding", and said it is working hard to minimise disruption to the business by increasing capacity at other facilities. 

Fire crews from neighbouring services were dispatched to provide support for the incident with appliances from as far away as Watford helping out.

Group manager Cooper added: "Our teams, and colleagues from Oxfordshire, Dorset & Wiltshire, Royal Berkshire and Hertfordshire have shown commitment and professionalism in dealing with a complex operation in incredibly challenging circumstances."