'Huge explosions' as five fuel tankers catch fire in Essex

Explosions were heard in Essex on Wednesday night after five fuel tankers went up in flames.

People in Purfleet reported hearing "absolutely huge" explosions and posted photos on social media of flames and black smoke rising into the night sky.

Fire crews spent more than two hours tackling the blaze on an industrial estate, where a "large fire involving five fuel tankers" containing 45,000 litres of fuel had broken out.

Essex Police put a corden in place around the incident in the Botany Way area, describing it as a "major incident".

The cause of the fire, which was extinguished by 12.30am, is being investigated.

Incident Commander, Martyn Hare, of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: "When we arrived at the incident we found all five fuel lorries well alight.

"The smoke could been seen from miles away, and we immediately ordered our specialist appliances including the foam unit to help tackle the fire.

"A total of five fuel lorries were involved with the fire. One lorry was empty, the other four lorries had a combined load of 45,000 litres of fuel.

Five fuel lorries were involved in the fire. Credit: @ECFRS/Twitter

"Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire extremely quickly. We used foam to tackle the fire as it forms a blanket like cover over the fire and suffocates it which helps to extinguish it quickly.

"Once the fire was extinguished and we had extinguished most of the hot spots we were able to reduce the number of fire engines at the scene.

"An investigation will take place to establish the cause of the fire".

National Rail said the fire was causing disruption to journeys

"Services may be delayed or diverted via Ockendon," a statement on the National Rail website said. "Dagenham Dock, Rainham and Purfleet will not be served."

c2c Rail, which runs from the City of London to Essex, tweeted: "Owing to a fire, we cannot run services via Ockendon and Rainham. Replacement buses are in place."