'Huge explosion' in Oxford after lightning strikes waste tank at recycling plant

  • Video captures the sky lit up after lightning struck a food waste recycling plant.

There has been a huge explosion on the outskirts of Oxford after lightning struck a tank at a food waste recycling plant.

Lightning struck what's known as a digester tank at the food waste recycling firm, Severn Trent Green Power in Yarnton just before 7:30 this evening.

Police and 40 firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue are at the scene, and local residents who live nearby are urged to stay at home and keep doors and windows closed.

The fire could be seen from Kidlington. Credit: Erin Cooper

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: "Our officers are currently at 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.

"No one is believed to have been hurt, but emergency services remain at the scene at this time.

"As a result of this, A40 has been closed between Wolvercote and Eynsham.

"To ensure public safety, nearby residents are asked to stay at home, to shut windows and doors and not to attend the scene."

  • Video courtesy of eyewitness @Brand_Stu_Dad

In a statement, a spokesperson for the waste recycling plant said: "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.

"We are working with the emergency services to secure the site and will provide further comments in due course."

Homes nearby have reported power cuts.

According to SSEN there are currently properties in 74 different postcodes without supplies.

Videos began circulating on social media on Monday showing a large fireball and the sky in the area pulsing an orange colour.

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

“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, in his 50s, from Oxford, an AI business director and former contestant on Big Brother, 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.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...