Pictures show extent of damage caused by explosion and fireball

By John Mercury October 4, 2023

New pictures have shown the damage at a food waste recycling plant in Oxfordshire after a lightning strike caused an explosion and a huge fireball.

Firefighters worked through the night at the Severn Trent Green Power facility, just off the A40 in Cassington, following the explosion on Monday evening.

In a statement, the company said the strike had “caused an explosion in our biogas tanks”.

Videos shared on social media showed a huge fireball erupting from the facility.

No one was injured in the incident – but three of the five digester tanks at the site were damaged.

The aftermath of a large fire caused by a lightning strike which broke out at a processing facility in Oxfordshire
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The aftermath of the fire at a food waste recycling plant in Oxfordshire

The aftermath of a large fire caused by a lightning strike which broke out at a processing facility in Oxfordshire
The aftermath of a large fire caused by a lightning strike which broke out at a processing facility in Oxfordshire on Monday evening. Severn Trent Green Power, a waste management company, confirmed a digester tank was struck by the lightning at around 7.20pm, causing the gases within the tank to ignite at its Cassington AD facility, near Yarnton. Picture date: Tuesday October 3, 2023.

Severn Trent Green Power said it was working with the emergency services to ensure the site was safe and urged people to stay away.

Crews were called to the scene at around 7.15pm, with some firefighters remaining at the scene into Tuesday.

A spokesperson said the number of crews had been reduced from six to two.

Images and videos of the explosion and its aftermath were shared on social media on Monday night.

The explosion was see north west of Oxford. Pic: @knocker
Image:
The explosion was seen northwest of Oxford. Pic: @knocker

Flames lit up the night sky. Pic: Lenny
Image:
Pic: Lenny

Witnesses said the fireball came after a lightning strike. Pic: @Brand_Stu_Dad
Image:
Pic: @Brand_Stu_Dad

A witness told the Oxford Mail they saw a “strange pulsing sky out of our windows looking northwest of Oxford”.

“I’m guessing it’s a fire caused by the lightning storm that passed over,” the witness added.

One person wrote on social media: “Anybody else in Oxford just see that fireball?”, adding there had been a “loud explosion”.

Another person added: “So strange, sky was pulsating.”

Stuart Reid wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Lightning strike near Oxford (A34). Struck something that burst in to flames.”

Read more from Sky News:
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Ana Cavey, who lives in Somerton, about 15 miles north of Oxford, told Sky News: “We’ve had the most unbelievable thunder and lightning storm ever… it came out of nowhere and the noise was incredible.

“A lightning strike hit right outside my house and it was deafening. It was terrifying. Awful.

“Our power has just come back on but we’ve been without power all evening until now.”

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.”

There was a weather warning for thunderstorms. Pic: Met Office
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There was a weather warning for thunderstorms in Oxfordshire on Monday night. Pic: Met Office

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

He added: “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.”

Stuart Hosking, an AI business director and former contestant on Big Brother who lives in Oxford, said: “We were pretty close. I thought it was the sun setting, until I saw the flickering and smoke.

“The lights flickered in the house then a flash, then a rumble like thunder, but a single bang.”

A yellow weather warning from the Met Office for thunderstorms and heavy rain was in place for Oxfordshire until 2am on Tuesday.

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