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Oxfordshire residents have recalled the moment a huge gas explosion caused by lightning rocked sleepy villages, shaking homes as far as five miles away and lighting up the sky with an ‘apocolyptic glow’.
As storms battered the area, a lightning strike caused gas canisters at the Severn Trent Green Power plant in Yarnton to combust.
Police urged residents to stay indoors and the A40 was closed as a fireball lit up the night sky, with the flames seen roaring from miles around.
Villagers in the surrounding areas filmed the column of flames rising above the site from a safe distance, with one saying he decided to record the dramatic scenes after he felt ‘the ground shake’. Locals heard the blast up to 20 miles away.
Corinna Bird was in a Sainsbury’s car park when she heard ‘what we thought were fireworks, then this huge apocalyptic glow lit up the sky, we could see the flames.’
A column of fire lit up the night sky and flames could be seen roaring from miles around
A BP service station in Woodstock with the orange glow caused by the fire illuminating the sky
Speaking to The Times, she added: ‘I just wanted to get home quickly and out of the storm, funny thing was it didn’t feel like a storm, it wasn’t even raining very much.’
A spokesperson for the food waste processing company said in a statement yesterday evening: ‘Severn Trent Green Power can confirm that at around 19.20 this evening, a digester tank at its Cassington AD facility near Yarnton, Oxfordshire, was struck by lightning resulting in the biogas within that tank igniting.
They later added: ‘Thankfully no one has been hurt and we are working with the emergency services to make sure the site is safe so that we can assess the damage as soon as possible.’
Energy supplier SSE, who operate in the area, told MailOnline there were 533 reported outages in the area, but stressed it was due to poor weather and not the explosion. Residents reported outages in Witney, Burford, Chipping Norton and Milton-under-Wychwood.
A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy rain was in place for Oxfordshire until 2am on Tuesday.
Thames Valley Police said that its officers attended 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,’ they said in a statement.
‘No one is believed to have been hurt, but emergency services remain at the scene. As a result of this, A40 has been closed between Wolvercote and Eynsham.
‘To ensure public safety, residents are asked to stay home, shut windows and doors and not to attend the scene.’
Videos show how the night sky was turned an eerie orange after what locals described as a ‘loud explosion’.
One resident shared a clip of the fire raging in the distance as he speculated what might have caused it.
‘Saw this strange pulsing sky out of our windows looking north west of Oxford,’ Kit Yates wrote on X.
‘I’m guessing it’s a fire caused by the lightning storm that passed over.’
Residents have shared videos of the fire raging after what a number of people have described as an ‘explosion’
Videos show the night sky being turned an eerie orange as the fire raged north west of Oxford
Mahmet Ciftci also posted on X: ‘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.’
It came after locals claimed an ‘absolutely massive’ clap of thunder erupted in west London yesterday evening as storms battered Britain.
The loud rumble sounded ‘movie sound affects’, one Chiswick resident said, jokingly adding that they ‘expected an alien ship to arrive’. Another claimed the thunderclap ‘scared the life out of us’ and ‘sounded like it hit something’.
The impact of the extreme weather came as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning as storms are set to batter swathes of the country, including London.
Downpours are expected for the rest of the week, with yellow storm warnings over parts of the UK in place until Friday.
The warning read: ‘Thunderstorms with frequent lightning have already affected parts of the warning area, these continuing into the evening in places. An increasing risk of longer-lasting intense downpours too, especially later this evening and further east across the warning area, for example towards south Lincolnshire and East Anglia.
‘These storms are likely to be focused in relatively narrow bands, so some places will miss the worst, while a few locations might catch 25-50 mm of rain within 2 or 3 hours, along with frequent lightning and gusty winds.’