UK premises operated by outside broadcast group NEP Visions were devastated by a fire that broke out on the night of Tuesday 3 November. The company's base at Bracknell in Berkshire was so severely damaged by the blaze, which was accompanied by explosions, that it will have to be demolished. Four OB trucks and a VT vehicle were also destroyed in what NEP Visions described as "a major fire".
The Cube building on the Bracknell West trading estate is the main headquarters for the majority of NEP Vision's UK scanners and support vehicles. Other trucks are based at NEP Cymru in Cardiff and at Observe in the Republic of Ireland.
The blaze is said to have started after 10pm and spread very quickly. Ten fire appliances were brought in to deal with the situation from Bracknell, Reading, Wokingham and the neighbouring counties of Hampshire and Buckinghamshire. The fire-fighting operation continued through the night and into the following morning.
NEP Visions director of legal and business affairs Dianne France was quoted by local news website GetReading.co.uk as saying that the building would "have to come down" and be rebuilt. In the meantime the company will move to temporary premises.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that its crews had left the incident and the site had been handed back to the owner. "Crews will continue to reinspect the scene for hot spots twice a day," it said in a press statement. "The cause of the fire is being investigated."
Despite efforts to evacuate equipment there is speculation that the fire will cost several hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages. The blaze claimed three of NEP Visions' big trucks – the Calrec Audio equipped Gemini, HD2 and HD3 – plus the smaller HD3 operated by Observe and a VT unit. NEP Visions said that it was "in close communication with its clients to ensure that forthcoming shows and events continue without disruption and will be working with other divisions of the NEP Group to draw on additional resources".
This means that NEP UK and Ireland still has 16 HD OB trucks and nine VT/support vehicles available, with 32 units in Europe that could be used. The company says it will be able to cover all scheduled broadcast events this coming weekend, including Premier League and Championship football, WWE and Channel 4 Racing.
The president and chief operating officer of NEP Broadcasting flew into the UK from the US and will be looking at "medium and long-term actions related to logistics, facilities and equipment". Steve Jenkins, president of NEP UK and Ireland, will concentrate on the company's clients and staff. "The response to this event is a testament to the NEP family's resilience and team spirit in the face of adversity," said Jenkins. "We are confident in our ability to continue serving our clients in both the short-term and long-term, thanks to the rest of the NEP Worldwide Network and the immediate help of our industry partners."
(This article was published on Thursday 5 November and then updated on Friday 6 November as further information emerged.)