Huge fire lights up night sky after explosion in Oxfordshire

A biogas tank was struck by lightning at a food waste recycling plant

Alex Ross
Tuesday 03 October 2023 13:06 BST
Massive fireball lights up sky following large ‘explosion’ in Oxfordshire

A huge fire lit up the night sky in Oxfordshire, as people reported hearing an ‘explosion’ after lightning hit a food waste recyling plant.

Shocked residents shared video and images on social media showing flames from the major fire in the north west of the county on Monday night.

The fire centred on an anaerobic digestion facility, located in Yarnton near Oxford, which was struck by lightning. The hit resulted in a biogas tank exploding, plant operators Severn Trent Green Power said.

A fireball lit up the night sky from the explosion near Oxford

In a statement, the firm said: “Severn Trent Green Power can confirm that at around 7.20pm this evening, a digester tank at its Cassington anaerobic digestion facility near Yarnton, Oxfordshire, was struck by lightning resulting in the biogas within that tank igniting.

“We are working with the emergency services to secure the site and will provide further comments in due course.”

Emergency services attended the incident, with 40 firefighters reported to be at the scene. South Central Ambulance Service confirmed paramedics attended - but a spokesperson said there were no reports of casualties.

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Thames Valley Police also said officers were dispatched. At 9.20pm, the force said in statement: “Our officers are currently at the scene of a fire at a waste plant near Yarnton, Oxfordshire. It is believed that lightning struck gas containers at the site during bad weather this evening, causing a large fire.”

The incident followed heavy showers accompanied by lightning strikes with the region under a yellow weather warning issued by the Met Office.

Jack Frowde, 34, from Oxford, who works at Oxford University, said: “I was sitting in my kitchen when the whole room lit up with a brilliant white light, then followed by a huge crack which sounded like really heavy thunder.

“I looked out of the kitchen window and it was as if the sky was pulsating orange. I ran to the back to capture the orange glow as it faded after about 20 seconds.”

Mahmet Ciftci posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Just saw something here in Kidlington that looked like an explosion in the distance. We heard a rumble like thunder and saw flames in the distance. The horizon went orange for a while.”

Joshua Bull wrote on X: “Definitely some kind of explosion - sounds like it’s out near Yarnton? Must have been huge, I’m in Marston and thought it was a car crashing outside my flat.”

As a result of the fire, the A40 between Wolvercote and Eynsham was closed - but was open again by 11pm. Residents also reported power outages in the surrounding towns and villages.

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