Hundreds of workers were evacuated from a major UK oil refinery after a large fire broke out at the plant.
Flames and clouds of thick black smoke could be seen from miles away pouring from Stanlow Oil Refinery, in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in images posted online.
All staff at the site have been evacuated and are accounted for, the plant’s operator, Essar Oil UK, said in a statement.
The firm added the blaze had broken out at a chemical manufacturing building on the site and had not affected the refinery itself.
“Both the site emergency services and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service are in attendance to deal with the incident,” it said.
“All personnel have been accounted for. Refinery operations at Stanlow remain unaffected.”
The refinery employs more than 900 staff and an additional 500 on-site contractors, according to Essar figures.
Brian Howell, 60, said he was relaxing in the Eastham Ferry area, around eight miles away, before he “heard a loud 'whoosh' type explosion”.
“I looked over to Stanlow and there was an aggressive fire and lots of black smoke,” he said.
Cheshire Fire Service said it was called to the blaze at 2.16pm on Wednesday afternoon and had contained the flames by around 3.30pm.
Crews remain at the site to extinguish remaining pockets of fire.
Stanlow is the second-largest refinery in the UK after Fawley in Hampshire and provides around a sixth of the country’s petrol needs.
It produces an estimated 4.4 billion litres of diesel and three billion litres of petrol annually.
Additional reporting by PA
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