THIS week’s look into the Greenock Telegraph archives takes us back 19 years – when a blaze caused Inverclyde to ‘ground to a halt’ amid fears of an explosion.

A 200m exclusion zone was set up around MacDougall Street following an early-morning fire.

The alarm was raised after a passing fire crew spotted smoke belching from a garage unit.

Nearby businesses and homes were forced to evacuate after firefighters found acetylene cylinders inside.

Port Glasgow Road was sealed off between the Cartsburn roundabout and Gibshill Road for 24 hours, with thousands of drivers finding themselves caught in the gridlock as emergency diversions were put in place.

Greenock Telegraph:

Taxi manager Tony McKenzie said: “We had 135 cars off the road for 24 hours."

Train services to Gourock were also affected after Cartsdyke station was closed.

The cylinders were doused in cold water by crews four a full 24 hours before experts removed them.

In other news, a Greenock family raised thousands of pounds for Ardgowan Hospice and Marie Curie Cancer Care in memory of their father.

Matthew Cameron passed away at the hospice in February 2004 following a cancer diagnosis.

Greenock Telegraph:

His loved ones gathered donations as a thank you to the organisations which helped him during his illness.

A bucket at the door of Word Up, where Matthew’s son worked, pulled in £1,200, with a disco and raffle night in Greenock adding a further £2,520 to the total.

Matthew’s sister Helen told the Tele: “The hospice and the Marie Curie nurses helped at a very stressful time for us all."

Meanwhile, Inverkip residents were calling on people to clean up their act when visiting the village’s beach.

Locals said the shore was left covered in broken glass, empty cans and syringes, with one dog – aptly named Kip – suffering ‘horrific’ leg injuries.

Greenock Telegraph:

Kip was confined to the house for 10 weeks as a result.

Resident Catherine MacGregor said: “I collected a bucket full of broken glass in just 20 minutes and I know of one couple who fill a carrier bag with rubbish every time they walk their dog on the beach.”

Elsewhere, spooky tales sent shivers down the spine at Newark Castle as youngsters gathered for a story time sessions.

Greenock Telegraph: Storytellers Lawrence and Jacky Folley Storytellers Lawrence and Jacky Folley (Image: Newsquest)

Librarian Bernadette Fisher arranged special Halloween events for primary school children to mark ‘Tell a Story Day’.

Inverclyde arts officer Jacky Folley let her imagination run wild as she came up with a frightening tale – acted out with the help of her husband Lawrence.

Greenock Telegraph:

Around 120 pupils from across Inverclyde took part in the sessions.

In sport, a strike ‘full of bitter irony’ saw Morton fall to defeat as they hosted Ayr United at Cappielow.

Earlier in the week, Ayr had announced that eventual goal scorer Darren Henderson was one of three players suspended for the tie.

Tele reporter Roger Graham wrote: “It turned out that the Somerset club had made a misjudgement and the veteran playmaker’s ban did not, in fact, begin until the following Saturday.

“How Morton must rue that.”