FIREFIGHTERS battled for nearly two hours to control a blaze after an explosion at a disused Milnsbridge factory.
Fire crews rushing to the scene found a thick plume of smoke rising from the old Taylor Valves factory at Dowker Street after part of the building exploded at around 4pm on Saturday.
The building caught fire after part of its asbestos roof was blown off when an electricity transformer exploded.
The explosion – which could be heard by locals for miles around – also knocked out the power of surrounding houses.
The firefighting operation involved crews from Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Cleckheaton and Elland, the Major Rescue Unit from Cleckheaton, paramedics and police.
Crew manager Andrew Wood, from Huddersfield fire station, said: “There was a big plume of smoke over Milnsbridge when we arrived.
“Part of the roof had blown off on to the road, the building was on fire and there was lots of oil which had also caught fire.
“It took us almost two hours to put it out and it attracted quite a bit of attention from locals.
“We carried out a thorough search of the building and luckily there was no one in there.
“If somebody had been in there it would have been curtains for them.”
The former engineering site has been empty for months and is to be demolished to make way for new houses.
No-one was in the building at the time of the explosion, but it is believed thieves had been there a short time before and actually caused it.
Mr Wood said: “Someone had obviously been in stripping the cables.
“As a result they’ve left an exposed live cable in there which has caused the explosion.
“The damage was confined to the part of the building where the transformer is, but it did knock all the power out of the surrounding homes and Yorkshire Electricity had to be called out.
“It caused quite a commotion. Apparently people could hear it explode from some distance away.”