Fire at Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire 'under control' says fire chief

People living nearby were advised to keep their windows and doors closed

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The Independent Online

A major fire broke out at Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire on Sunday night, with flames seen pouring from at least two of its cooling towers.

People living nearby were advised to keep their windows and doors closed by Thames Valley Police.

Steve Shadbolt, who lives nearby, told the Oxford Mail: “I looked across at the power station and there was this bright light. I got my camera and zoomed in and realised one of the towers was alight.

“It burnt so fiercely that it spread to the next one. It's now dying down. At the time it was quite a blaze but just seems to be embers now. I imagine the fire service have got everything under control.”

He took a photograph that showed clouds of thick black smoke billowing up from a fire that was higher than two towers on either side. The Thames Valley force said on twitter: “Police assisting fire service at scene of fire at Didcot power station B. Nearby residents advised keep windows and doors closed.”

The power station, which burns natural gas, supplies electricity to up to a million homes, according to operator RWE npower.

Some on Twitter worried about whether the smoke would pose a health risk.

“Everyone is worried about Didcot burning, hang on what if the wind is coming towards Sutton,” tweeted OwenKingg19.

Such was the scale of the blaze that as well as crews from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, firefighters from neighbouring services have also been drafted in.

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed one of its turntable ladders from High Wycombe Fire Station, some 30 miles from Didcot, has been called in to assist.

As firefighters tackled the major blaze, onlookers posted pictures of the power station with orange flames stretching in to the night sky.

Simon Perry tweeted "power station tonight ... stay safe all, challenging job!"

Didcot B, which opened in 1997, is one of a new generation of highly efficient, gas-burning power stations which uses the latest generating technology to produce electricity. Didcot A was demolished earlier this year.

Late on Sunday, Dave Etheridge, chief fire officer of Oxfordshire Fire Service, told Sky News that the fire was under control.

“There is absolutely no risk to the public from the smoke plume and we are confident there will be no effect on electricity,” he said.

"It was a very serious fire and we are working very hard in very difficult conditions. Thankfully we have had no reports of injuries.

"We are very hopefully we will be able to scale back the operation shortly."

He added that the fire service works closely with the management of the site carrying out regular exercises together to prepare for serious incidents.

"What they did very quickly was to shut down the site so it stops supplying electricity to the National Grid,” he said.

A spokesman for National Grid said: “We’re aware of the incident and in contact with the station operator RWE. There has been no immediate operational impact on the electricity system.”