25th anniversary of devastating Peterborough explosion

Tomorrow it will be exactly 25 years to the day that a lorry full of explosives blew up on an industrial estate in Peterborough. One firefighter died and more than a hundred people were injured.

Buildings were damaged and vehicles destroyed - with debris landing up to 400 metres away - when the lorry full of explosives, destined for a nearby fireworks factory, caught fire and detonated in a yard on Fengate.

The aftermath of the explosion in 1989. Credit: ITV News Anglia
Today the site is a car sales business. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The site of the explosion is now home to a car sales business, but as ITV News Anglia reported on the 22nd of March 1989 ,the yard on Fengate in Peterborough was a scene of chaos.

A truck carrying almost 800 kilogrammes of explosives blew up ripping through nearby vehicles and buildings.

The truck was turning round in the Vibroplant yard after the driver got lost on the way to the nearby Le Maitre fireworks factory.

A minor explosion in the back caused a fire. Minutes later - with the fire service on the scene trying to make the lorry safe - the rest of the explosives detonated.

More than 100 people were injured by the explosion and 87 of them needed hospital treatment. One firefighter John Humphries died after being hit by a fragment from the blast. He was only about 15 metres from the van when it exploded.

A plaque dedicated to John Humphries' bravery can still be found in the car sales office.

After the explosion the legislation was changed in relation to the signs required on vehicles carrying explosives to give fire crews more warning about the dangers they could be facing.

Click below to watch Stuart Leithes' report.