A HUGE oven is at the centre of the investigations into the explosion tragedy at a Huddersfield bakery.
The oven – described as “big as a minibus” – was in the Andrew Jones Pies bakehouse torn apart by the massive blast early on Friday.
And the Examiner can reveal today that the tragedy happened just 10 minutes after the 5am shift started last Friday.
The explosion claimed the life of 37-year-old baker David Cole and left his 24-year-old colleague, Huddersfield man Marcus Cartwright badly hurt.
Company sales manager Graham Easby believes the giant oven – or a fault with a gas pipe leading to it – is to blame for the explosion.
Mr Easby said: “We think it might have taken place in the oven because of the amount of damage – nothing is left of it.
“We’re talking about a huge oven, not like one you would use at home in your kitchen. It is as big as a mini bus.”
The exact cause has yet to be pinpointed and a major investigation is still underway.
“The cause of the explosion hasn’t been confirmed by Health and Safety yet,” added Mr Easby. “We’ll know more in the next few days.”
Previously, two ovens stood side-by-side in the factory and each were loaded with 1400 pork pies every hour throughout the day.
Colleagues have visited the Old Leeds Road factory over the weekend to clean up the debris.
Mr Easby said: “They have all gone home now and it’s possibly the first time they’ve been able to get back to some sort of normal life.”
Today marks the start of the company’s revival after the trauma of the last few days.
All 25 staff members will be at a meeting this afternoon at The George Hotel where they will discuss the future of the company.
Graham said: “We’re going to be talking through what happened and offering advice and counselling. People may be suffering from post traumatic stress.
“We’re going to talk through everything and I’m sure some will be wondering whether they still have jobs and what will happen now.”
Seven men were working at Andrew Jones Pies, on Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield, when the blast brought down part of the roof and started a fire just after 5am.
Father-of-two Mr Cole from Halifax died at the scene. Mr Cartwright from Crosland Moor is said to be in a serious but improving condition at Leeds General Infirmary.
The father-of-one suffered broken ribs, a burst eardrum, bruising to his spine and minor burns.
On Saturday police, fire investigation and health and safety teams carried out an investigation at the factory.
Owner Andrew Jones, who founded the business 21 years ago, worked alongside supervisor Mr Cole for over 10 years.
The company is a well-known Huddersfield brand and has won a string of awards over the years.