BUILDINGS were evacuated in the centre of Abingdon this afternoon after a 'chemical incident'.

Four people have been taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital and Coxeter House in Ock Street has been cordoned off after high levels of dangerous gases were identified in the area. 

UPDATE: Fire service reveal more about 'chemical incident' 

Spice Valley, a restaurant inside the business complex, has confirmed the incident started in the curry house and involved industrial strength cleaning products. 

Emergency services have stressed there is no risk to the public and the patients are not in a serious condition. 

South Central Ambulance Service said the incident started when a man fell off a ladder, possibly because of the chemicals he was using at the time. 

The service later clarified that the man was inside the building when he fell. 

High levels of carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide were then detected by firefighters and a 100m cordon was put in place and the area was evacuated. 

Eye-witnesses have reported a large number of fire engines and ambulances have been in attendance throughout the afternoon. 

Spokesman David Gallagher said: "We received a 999 call at 11:40 with the caller reporting a worker at Coxeter House on Ock Street had fallen off a ladder they were working on, and sustained a minor head injury.

"We sent an ambulance to the incident and the crew reported the male patient, in his mid-30s, had begun to feel unwell on the ladder, started to come down but then either had a possible medical episode and fell, sustaining a head injury, or was possibly affected by the chemicals he was using at the time or possibly there was some other cause to him feeling unwell.

Oxford Mail:

"The Fire Service at the scene then identified high levels of carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide and therefore evacuated the building and established a 100m cordon around it.

"We now have a second ambulance, a tactical commander and our Hazardous Area Response Team at the site supporting the Fire Service.

"A second patient is now being assessed in the ambulance along with the first patient."

Oxford Mail:

In a later statement, sent at 3pm, Mr Gallagher confirmed a further two people affected were also being admitted to hospital.

Two were working for a cleaning company at the time and the other two were members of the public who had tried to help them. 

All tested positive for carbon monoxide exposure but not at a serious or dangerous level.

In a statement posted on the restaurant's Facebook page, the owner of Spice Valley has issued an update. 

He wrote: "An external company was doing the routine cleaning of our extraction fan/canopy, while using industrial cleaners/solvents the gentleman breathed in the products and become unconscious and also suffered a minor head injury.

"Because of the hazardous chemicals used whilst cleaning, the fire brigade had to evacuate the site.

"The fire brigade have since cleared the site and the cleaning company have further cleaned the extraction/canopy.

"We have been told the gentleman is ok and we wish him all the best and a speedy recovery.

"We look forward to welcoming all our guests and we are open as usual."

On Twitter, Thames Valley Police said its officers were on site. 

It read: "Police are currently assisting the fire service at a chemical incident at Coxters, Stratton Way, Abingdon.

Oxford Mail:

"Nearby buildings have been evacuated. There are no concerns for the public & there are no suspicious circumstances."

Paul Smith, spokesman for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said they were called at 11.59am. 

One fire crew each from Didcot and Abingdon were sent to scene. 

The Fire Service wouldn't provide any further information while the incident is ongoing. 

A staff member at Seeneys Pet Supplies, next to the building, said they had been given the 'all clear' to stay open by police. 

She said cars are still able to drive down Stratton Way.

At 4.15pm, Oxford Bus Company said it was experiencing severe delays on its X3/35 services.