Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 18:34 UK

Man hurt in fuel-making explosion

A man blew up his garage attempting to make biodiesel from cooking oil at his Northamptonshire home.

The victim received 20% burns when his makeshift garage factory, in Middleton Cheney, exploded on Saturday afternoon.

He was airlifted to the specialist burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire, where he is now being treated.

Fire crews from Banbury, Oxfordshire, in breathing apparatus, sealed the area off until the chemicals were made safe.

It is understood the man regularly made fuel from used cooking oil, which he got from his local Chinese takeaway.

Soaring prices

He was using an electric drill to mix the oil with ethanol and caustic soda when a spark ignited the flames, causing the explosion.

Making your own fuel is legal - the government allows people to produce 2,500 litres of biofuel a year, tax free.

The AA has said more people are making their own supplies since the price of petrol and diesel began to soar at the pumps - with one estimate suggesting that 20,000 people across the UK are doing so.

But the organisation said while biodiesel might work in older cars, newer engines often do not react well to home-made fuel.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service warned that people without sufficient knowledge of how to deal with chemicals were likely to face problems.

A spokesman said: "Firefighters would like to urge members of the public to take extreme caution if undertaking such chemical mixtures in their own homes and ensure they know exactly what they are doing and the potential consequences."

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