Bunsfield Oil Depot Fire

Three years ago today, shortly after six in the morning, the Bunsfield Oil Depot near Hemel Hempstead was rocked by a series of massive explosions which were heard as far away as France and Holland (though I failed to hear them from North London). By the time I heard the news, about three hours later, it was clear that nobody had been killed. I was nevertheless very relieved to make contact with my sister and my nephew, who live just two miles away from the depot. They’d been woken by the blast, but it had done no damage. It was also clear by that time that the explosion was an accident and not a result of a terrorist attack.

During the afternoon I took a number of photographs from Hampstead Heath, from which the smoky cloud from the fire could clearly be seen staining the sky:

I then drove to St Albans, from where a huge plume of smoke was clearly visible:

The soot in the atmosphere resulted in a dramatic, Krakatoa-like sunset.

The M1 was closed to traffic. I took this shot from a bridge over the motorway, about a couple of miles from the depot:

Illuminated by the setting sun, the smoke was rolling directly overhead, producing this almost apocalyptic view:

Another view, from Leverstock Green, about a mile away from the fire. Warning sirens could clearly be heard:

The aftermath. Badly damaged industrial units close to ground zero, as seen on Christmas Day:

© Christopher Seddon 2008

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Author: prehistorian

Prehistorian & author

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