ONE man has been airlifted to hospital after suffering burns in a fire that followed reports of an explosion at an adhesives and coating firm.

The man, in his 40s, who is believed to be a worker at the factory, was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital, which has a specialist burns care unit, while another man was treated at the scene trying to rescue him from the fire.

There were 20 firefighters tackling the blaze at its height, which started at about 11.40am today at ITAC Limited in Bankfield Mills, Bank Field Street, Ringley.

The area around the factory has been cordoned off.

A worker at the nearby Horseshoe pub, where ITAC workers gathered after being evacuated from the building, said: “A few of us were sat outside then suddenly at about twenty to twelve we saw all of this black smoke coming from the factory.

“It looked like an atom bomb had gone off.

“We didn’t hear any explosion but we saw the air ambulance come in and take someone away.”

Nearby school St Saviour Ringley CE Primary stayed open for a short time after the fire, but said they had to be closed just after 1pm when water pressure dropped because of the amount being pumped onto the fire.

Firefighters also had to pump water from the River Irwell when hydrant stocks were depleted.

There were five fire engines at the scene, along with a number of special support units, and firefighters have been using foam to put the fire out.

Station manager Paul Todd said: “There was a range of flammable materials involved and firefighters worked hard to bring the fire under control.

“We were initially called to an explosion and one person was taken to hospital by air ambulance with burns.

"Another person was treated at the scene after suffering burns trying to rescue him.

“The fire has been brought under control and crew are now dampening down and checking there are no remaining hot spots.

"We are likely to have resources at the scene until this evening.

“Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is working closely with agencies such as GMP, Bolton Council and the Environment Agency to minimise the impact of this incident on the local community.”

Fold Road was closed into the afternoon to allow access for emergency vehicles.

The Bolton News:

St Saviour headteacher Ian Southern said: "We saw smoke but didn't hear anything.

"The children saw the fire brigade and the air ambulance and were excited about seeing the crews.

"We were told the school would be okay, but the clincher to close the school was the lack of water.

"We contacted parents and they have been really responsive.

"The ambulance service and fire service have been using the school toilets.

"We hope those injured recover quickly."

School football competitions are due to go ahead as planned this evening.

One grandparent, who was at school to collect her children, said: "I hope everyone is okay - a lot of the people who work there are local."

A North West Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called out to an explosion at ITAC Adhesives in Bank Field Street at 11.39am on Tuesday.

“A number of vehicles attended and one patient was airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital.”

The cause of the fire is being investigated.