Minimize London (UK) - December 2005

HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England, Wednesday, 14 December 2005 - A blaze reignited at the Buncefield oil depot north of London but firefighters said they were allowing it to burn itself out to prevent the risk of explosion. Fire crews have worked day and night to quench the three-day inferno at the depot near the town of Hemel Hempstead that sent a pall of black smoke high into the sky, casting a long shadow across a swathe of southern England.

The blaze was finally extinguished after 180 firefighters pumped more than 15 million liters of water and a quarter of a million liters of foam concentrate on to the flames. Police advised people living near the depot to stay inside and keep their doors and windows closed while smoke continued to belch from the fire. Many houses suffered damage and had windows blown out from the force of a number of explosions at the start of the depot blaze on Sunday morning.

Police say they believe the fire was caused by an accident, but a full investigation will now get under way. Officials say fears the clouds of smoke could cause major health or environmental damage have so far proved unfounded. Forty-three people were treated in hospital as a result of the blasts and the fire but only two were seriously injured. The depot, the fifth-largest in Britain, is jointly owned by oil companies Total and Texaco.

Envisat view of fire

These Envisat MERIS_FR_1P images were acquired on 11 December 2005 over England (UK). The images show the smoke in black (top side) over southern England. The smoke was caused by the explosion at the Buncefield depot 40 kilometres north of London.

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Technical Information
Product: MER_FR_1P (300 metre resolution)
Satellite: Envisat
Instrument: Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS)
Date of acquisition: 11 Dec 2005
Orbit: 19773
Orbit direction: Descending
Band combination: First image: 7, 5, 2 (RGB)
Second image: 12, 9, 5 (RGB)
Third image: 8, 5, 2 (RGB)
Map of area

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