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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 December 2005, 11:09 GMT
Oil depot blast: Your comments
Three large explosions have rocked a fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. We started receiving your comments shortly after 6 o'clock this morning.


There was a clear blue sky over High Wycombe this morning - now it has been blacked out by the fumes from Hemel Hempstead.
John Ley, High Wycombe, Bucks

My house shook at 6.03am and I live in Slough! I cannot imagine what it would have been like for people closer to the epicentre.
Sam, Slough, UK

I was in my bedroom/office getting ready for work in Aldgate. All of a sudden the whole room just shook and actually appeared to tip. A good 5 or 6 seconds later there was a terrifying explosion. I looked out of the window to see a huge fireball light the sky which must have been up to 200 ft high. I incorrectly assumed a local forecourt garage had exploded (Buncefield is about a mile away from my home)
Mike Napthine, Hemel Hempstead

The blast woke me and the wife 16 miles away in north Luton,i thought it was thunder or a plane breaking the sound barrier
Doug Stephen, Luton

Hi my name is Taryn, my dad is a Texaco tank driver. He was at the scene when he pulled up outside the depot gate and then the explosion happened. He was not hurt in anyway as the gate was quite a drive before you get to the tanks. The rumour that is around is that a tank leaked and caught fire some how, then spread to the tanks beside it, full with petrol and exploded. age:10
Taryn, nth Bushey and england

I live about 3.5 miles from where the explosion. The 1st explosion woke me up from the massive shake and the loud bang. I heard the two other explosions which had not such a loud bang. All that I can see in the sky is black from the smoke and orange from the sun mixed with the smoke. Philippa
Philippa Carr, Hemel Hempstead, England

just arrived at my office, at about six I was about to unlock, when the office door rattled and at the same time I heard about four low booming sounds, which I though was the army firing at their thetford firing range which we here up in Norwich, and thought nothing more about it until your news flash on our companies PCs
Robert starling, Norwich Norfolk

Whilst getting ready for work this morning, I heard a loud rumble, like distant thunder. Then at the same time as the noise happened, my back door flew open. I seriously thought there had been an earth tremor. Most of my colleagues at work heard it also
Elaine Ward, Reading

We felt something first and I jumped out of bed just as I heard the blast. The birds were flying in all directions. We thought it must have been an explosion on the industrial estate and are shocked to find it is so far away.
Teresa Price, High Wycombe, Bucks

We were awake at 6am and heard two distant bangs at about the time of the explosions. Felixstowe is 80miles from Hemel Hempstead.
Robert Shaw, Felixstowe, Suffolk

The sky lit up orange my windows were open so we went to have a look but couldn┐t get any were near but there were people crying saying I know people who are in there.
Jason fuller, Hemel Hempstead

I was at my mates in Highfield playing on their ps2 and suddenly I saw a bright light then a massive bang. Suddenly the house shock I woke my mate lee up and then his mum shout boys get up there┐s been an explosion so me and my mates ran outside towards the oil depo. I managed to get up to the nikkie line near exel but at that point the heat n smell was unbearable so I returned my friend filmed footage on his phone.
ben, hemel hempstead

I was woken up just after 6.00 a.m. by what sounded like a large rumble - it felt very strange - I thought it was an earthquake.
Judy Palmer, Princes Risborough, Bucks

I heard what I thought was two claps of thunder and the radiator shock on the wall.
Kevin Pitcher, Aylesbury

We were woken by the explosion at 6am. We couldn't believe how loud it was, especially when we heard how far away it was.
Rob Griffiths, Beaconsfield, Bucks

Was puzzled when I heard what I thought was thunder as I dozed. This isn't the right kind of weather I realised, maybe I wouldn't get out on my bike this morning.
Stewart Coulter, Uxbridge, Middx.

I heard this earlier this morning we a fair distance away from the refinery nearly in oxford, I had just got my 12 month old back to bed just after 6 and I head a bang and sort of shock wave over the house and it was not till we got up at 7.30 we saw the news..... and put 2 and 2 together.
Chris Warren, Haddenham, Bucks

Woken by explosion at 0555! Very loud low thud.
Joe T, STAINES

i am a student at Brunel University I did hear the explosion and I woke up at 0620 it was a massive explosion the room shook.
Ahmad Nasir, Uxbridge

I heard/felt what I initially thought was a minor earthquake at approximately 6am. I decided to search the news in an attempt to confirm and realized I had heard the initial explosion of the fuel depot. Hard to believe that it was heard and felt all the way here in Oxfordshire.
Michel Ouellette, Bicester, Oxfordshire

Woke us up this morning and initially put the "bang" down to a freak thunder clap. Finally got up just after 7 am to find that the trap door to our loft had dropped down - therefore assumed that was the noise. Tuned in to News24 (as usual) to see the reports about the Buncefield explosion. It would appear that at 5.5 miles away the shock wave was still strong enough to cause a pressure drop in the loft which released the loft door catch. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those far closer than ourselves.
Derek Hawtin, Harpenden, Herts

I live 10 miles away from Hemel and I was woken with a start when the first explosion went off. The whole house reverberated and the vibration of the garage doors made a very loud noise. My first reaction was that it was a bomb.
Paul emery, Chesham bucks

We heard a loud bang in High Wycombe at around 06.00am and even now you can smell fumes.
Jhelanie Ahmed, High Wycombe

I was woken up by a "clunk" like something falling off of a shelf at around 06:09 this morning, I assume it was the explosion, obviously at my distance it was just heard as a clunk instead of a boom, but it's an impressive distance away, the day is very clear this morning so I assume the sound carried.
Toby Broyad, Folkestone, Kent

My son woke me at 0555 so I was awake when I felt the shockwave of the explosion roll over the house just before I heard the explosion which woke everyone in the house. The whole house shook and the loft hatch fell open. Our first thoughts were train crash or bomb. We heard the two smaller explosions. We could see the sky light up orange with the flames and have watched the smoke cloud grow from a small mushroom to a giant cloud covering the horizon and grow up into the sky
Kathy Hilton, Harpenden

We were woken up at approx 0600 by a whoosh and a low rumble and then another low bang. When it was getting light at 0800 the sky was partially covered with low black cloud and the air was foggy.
Janet Kennewell, High Wycombe Bucks

I was dozing in bed, heard a rumbling explosion and then the house shook a bit. I didn't know what it was but knew it was big. Plane crash at Heathrow was my first impression. I also knew it had to be quite a way away, ie, it wasn't a local explosion.
peter Keynes, Woking, Surrey

I heard the explosion in North Norfolk around 6.00 a.m. Couldn't think what it was and went back to sleep.
Peter Maingay, Cromer, England

We were at the Luton airport when it exploded. The building shook, the floor jumped, the windows rattled. I thought it was a plane crash, but when we left the building there were no problems. As we drove back to London on the M1, police passed us, and closed the carriageway. We were right in front and saw huge leaping flames and fireballs. I still thought it was a plane crash until the first news came on the radio. On the way around the blast, we could feel the heat from over a mile away.
feath, London

At 06:00 I heard a loud noise. At first I thought something at the local station (ST Kenton). I saw redness in the sky. After looking around further and not seeing nothing I went to work. I logged on the internet and heard what has happened....I hope everybody is fine...
Kiran Shah, North Wembley, Middlesex

I heard a loud boom and our house shook at around the same time as the explosion. The time on my alarm clock said 6:06am. As we live on the flight path from Heathrow at first I thought it was a cargo plane.
Marie Hill, Burnham, Bucks

We had arrived at work 6am, and then suddenly we had a massive explosion and the roof in the distance was moving up and down, like paper, i thought it was some gas leak or some air in pipes but when i heard it was explosion in Hemel and we are in Greenford that's miles away, i was surprised we saw the shock and heard the noise. it was like what you imagine an earthquake would be, i was worried and prayed to Allah to protect us.
Harris Maguire, Greenford, UK

I was woken up at about 5:55hrs when my bedroom literally shook and the windows rattled and i could hear a dull boom like a rumble of loud boom sound. It felt like an aftershock after an earthquake.
Jason Plummer, Acton, London

I was woken up by what I thought at the time was a crack of thunder, I remember thinking that it must be an enormous storm.
Ben Sharrock, Luton, Beds, UK

Like many heard the massive explosion just after 6.00am. Windows rattled. A frightening sound. Started like thunder but it went on getting louder. Apparently, there is also a highly volatile pipeline carrying flammable multi-products from Buncefield Depot to Heathrow.
Malcolm Pritchard, Luton Beds.

My year old daughter woke up at around 5.45am this morning. I made her a bottle and took it back up to our room. I was trying to get back to sleep at around six am and heard a gas sounding explosion, but very muffled. I hoped it wasn't a problem with our boiler and went back to sleep with the reassurance that we were covered by insurance! I got up again at 8am to hear the news of the explosion quite a long way away.
Jane Wotton, Morden, Surrey

I live about 3 miles inland from Herne Bay on the North Kent coast. I was de-icing my car at around 0610 when I heard 3 loud rumbles. I thought it was the firing range at Shoeburyness - but not at that time of the morning.
Kevin Thorpe, Hoath, Canterbury

I heard a noise this morning at about 6.05am thinking it was part of an earth tremor. Only I didn't feel any vibrations! That must have been one incredible explosion!
Mark, Didcot, Oxfordshire

We live about 3 miles from Buncefield Depot. Just after 6am the house was rocked by a huge reverberating bang. The sky immediately glowed orange and flashed light and dark. I guessed immediately that Buncefield had gone up. My daughter's phone stared chiming texts arriving from her friends who live closer to the explosion. Right now there is an eerie light as the rising sun attempts to penetrate the massive pall of black smoke hanging in the still, cold morning air above Hemel Hempstead. What should have been a beautiful clear and crisp December Sunday morning is now a scene of disaster and devastation as we collect glass from the street and do our best to block up blown-in doors. I can only imagine what state the residents closer to the blast must have experienced, if we have it this bad more than 3 miles away.
Dave Davies, Hemel Hempstead

I was sleeping but woke up just before the first explosion; I was taking some water when I heard a massive explosion. Being so close to the town I jumped so badly the water spilt on me entirely, I thought it was a thunderstorm but worse. My dad came in minutes later saying did you hear it, I then drifted back to sleep and then asked one of my brothers what caused it in the morning. I know found out, get well to those casualties.
Thomas Armstrong, St Albans, Herts.

I was awake listening to music and my house just shook, thought it was the end of the world!
Rob Corbishley, Hemel Hemstead

i was awoken at about 6 when i heard a huge explosion and my dog was barking car alarms were going off and have heard more smaller explosions
Craig thrussell, harpenden

Explosion rocked the house and set off car alarms. Honestly thought a house behind us had exploded. Scared the life out of me.
J, Wendover, Bucks

I heard what I thought was something falling down in my loft and then rolling aay and thought I must check that later and found out later about this explosion and we are just north of Ipswich Suffolk
Suzanne Hunt, Easton Woodbridge Suffolk

We live about 10 miles away. We were woken by a large explosion at 6.02a.m. Our loft hatch opened and a car alarm went off across the road. My son thought we'd had an earthquake
Mr Ellard Roberts, Watford

I was dozing when pulled fully awake by the 6:03 blast and the window shaking slightly; I immediately switched on the radio and waited for news. I'm on the south side of London!
Ditch Townsend, Wimbledon, UK

I live around 11 miles from the explosion. I was woken at 6am by an enormous boom. I actually thought that it was either a huge clap of thunder or even that my heating boiler had exploded, such was loud boom.
David Stanton, Bushey, Hertfordshire

I woke suddenly at 6am and felt the house shaking with force, and immediately thought it was another earth tremor. Within minutes, I was in contact with friends in Kilburn and North Essex who heard the blast.
Peter Hicks, St. Albans, UK

I felt a significant vibration just after 6am this morning. It was strong enough to wake me from a light sleep. I cannot think of anything else it could have been despite my being 45miles away.
Meg Haver, Northampton, UK

I am about 10 miles away and there was a huge bang at 06:00 and the whole house shook. We tried to phone the police but all lines were busy.
Kalvis Jansons, Hitchin, Herts

I'm currently about 8 miles from Hemel, and can see a huge mushroom cloud to the west from the explosion. At about 6am we heard the explosion, and our entire house shook. Shortly after, people were in the streets wondering what happened.
Alex Johnston, St Albans, UK

We are about 10 miles away and were awakened at 6 o'clock thinking our gas boiler had exploded. There is a MASSIVE black plume in the sky - and the rising sun is obscured completely as this moves towards us. Beginning to smell it now!
Ruth king, Chesham, Bucks

I live about 5 miles away and I heard the first explosion. Out loft hatches fell out and the smoke alarms went off. We could see the flames on the horizon and now can see the smoke cloud rising high into the sky.
Daniel Thrale, Harpenden, Hertfordshire

I was up early this morning, and the house shook and the front door (even the letter box) rattled. I couldn't work out what had happened, and was preparing to check my loft when it got light to see if something had fallen. It was so unexpected, that if made my heart race - just couldn't think what had happened.
Jane, Borehamwood, Herts. UK

We're working all night in a vehicle recovery company on Dorking. We heard the explosion and assumed that it was an accident in the road outside. Several car alarms went off locally.
John, Dorking - Surrey

I live in right Central London and i was woken abruptly around six by a huge noise. It was like the front door being slammed very violently.
Roderick Gordon, London

Just after 6 am I was in the conservatory and heard a loud bang on the conservatory roof, it felt as if it the roof was bending in. On going upstairs I saw that the loft door had been blown open. Bracknell is over 50 mile away from HH.
Nina Len, Bracknell Berkshire

I was woken up initially by the massive boom, and then my house felt like it was on a wave machine, up and down. The rumblings continued and as i live on my own i was very frightened and my first thought was that it was a nuclear attack!!!

I called directory enquiries to get the number for Hertfordshire police and was told what had happened. I live on top of the hill and from my house i can hear further rumblings and see the flames but not clearly. The air is incredibly smoky however, it was possibly the most frightening thing that has happened to me. Appalling, I sincerely hope there are not too many casualties.
Lis Bailey, St Albans, outskirts nearer to Hemel

At about 6am I heard a loud distant bang like far off thunder but I knew it was an explosion, I recognised it from having lived in Ealing at the time of the bomb blast there a few years ago. I just heard on the radio people in Wimbledon heard it too!
Jason Etherington, Brentford, Middlesex

I heard a fairly sudden, loud rumble at around 6am, which I took to be a distant thunderstorm sounding off. About 20 minutes later, when I heard a second one, I took it to be a plane taking off from Heathrow, which would have been unusual at that time in the morning. I can only now assume that these were the two large explosions, which made it at least as far as Sunningdale.
Frank Wales, Sunningdale, UK

I was woken by the blast, the 'Thunderhead' cloud that hangs in the air from the blast must be five miles long and two miles high.
Mark Collins, Luton, Bedfordshire

I'm at least 100 miles from the blast but just after 6 this morning pheasants in the field next to my house started to squawk loudly and seconds later a rumble like a sonic boom or thunder sent me outside to investigate. I was amazed when I found how far the sound had travelled
David Mitchell, Pettaugh, Suffolk

I heard it around 6.02 or 6.03. It was several seconds long - like gurgling thunder and coming from the north. I looked out the window expecting to see something in the sky as it sounded close by. Seeing nothing from here (there's a building blocking my view to the north), I thought it must be a truck accident on Notting Hill Gate, a few streets away. I hope this isn't terrorists. These things happen at fuel depots.
Susan Wolfe, Kensington/Notting Hill - London, UK

There is a travellers site roughly 500 yards away from the oil depot. You will need to ask the Police or witnesses that these people are ok as they are children on this site.
Terence O'Leary, Hemel Hempstead

We're in Milton Keynes and woke up at about 6am, then heard an almighty boom. The house shook in its foundations. It woke the next-door neighbour - we didn't know whether it was a gas explosion, bomb, earthquake.... Rang the in-laws a couple of miles away - they mentioned the boom and vibration. Rang my father - no boom but house shaking. Looking out of the window now (0728h), we can see the plume of smoke lit up in the morning sky. Sympathise with those closer to the location; it really worried us....
Jill Janes, Milton Keynes, England

Asleep at the time of the explosion, I remember hearing an extremely loud boom and thinking there was an earthquake or a storm outside. I gradually drifted back to sleep, but I still remember hearing some rumbling after the initial explosion, and two small explosions after that. At around 6.45 my parents were talking loudly and running around the house. I woke up to find that my father, a cardiologist, to have been called to Hemel Hempstead hospital and my mother looking out the window saying "Oh my god." There is a large black cloud visible from the end of our road and if any windows or doors are open, there is a great smell of burning and fuel.
Katie Brown, Studham, England - about 5 miles from Hemel Hempstead

There was a large shockwave followed by a roll of thunder at approx 6.05am. After initial apparent eye witness reports that a plane was involved myself and several neighbours rushed to attempt to get close to offer assistance. by 6.25 we were within 500 metres of the site when a second smaller explosion took place followed by a third shortly afterwards. There is widespread damage on the maylands industrial estate with panels ripped from buildings and doors buckled. There's been no advice for local residents as yet but would like to wish all the emergency services the very best fortune in what must be an extremely hazardous situation.
Richard Jones, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

My girlfriend and I were woken at 6 by what we thought was someone trying to break in after the front door rattled fiercely for about 5 seconds. We then decided it must a minor earth tremor after feeling the subsequent, albeit smaller, vibrations slightly later.
Rob Ganly, Radlett, Herts

I heard the explosion at just gone 6am this morning - I thought it was a small earthquake, as the house shook, car alarms went off and I heard the rumble disappear off into the distance. Having heard explosions in Baghdad & Basra, I've never heard anything quite like this!

My housemate works in Luton Airport. Apparently there was a terrorist alert due to intelligence received on Friday - could this be related?
Kieran Madden, Luton, Bedfordshire

I was awake at 5:50 this morning when suddenly I felt the entire house shake. The first thought I had was someone trying to break in the house. After running down stairs, both my parents were also woken up and when in the back garden we could see a orange glow on the horizon. My Brother is a retained firefighter and was called out after 15 minutes. Obviously We're all hoping he's going to be ok now. It really was a massive explosion.
Alan Chatfield, Bushey

I live two miles away and my house shook.

The flames are enormous - people were just following the flames, everyone thought the fire was just around the corner because of the heat, and light, and every time we turned the corner it looked like it was just around the next corner, we kept going.

The industrial estate is a mess, sides are blown of buildings, and it lots of windows blown in.
James Nassif, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

I heard a loud bang outside at about 6.25am.I thought someone had crashed into the side of my ground floor flat but there was nothing to be seen when I looked outside. It's really scary. I have relatives living in Hemel Hempstead, I hope they're ok.
Pat Fuller, Watford, Herts.

As I was running near the centre of Welwyn Garden City I heard what I at first took to be a bad traffic accident, and I tried to think where the nearest public phone box was. When I entered town, a large number of burglar alarms had been set off. I was impressed by the response of police: they were on the road less than a few minutes after I heard the blast. At that point I knew it was something big, and I began to think that there might have been a tanker explosion on the A1.

My wife at home heard what she thought was a loud door bang just after six.
Ian Humphrey, Welwyn Garden City

We heard a massive explosion which shook our hangar doors, these doors are over 75 foot high and weigh many tons. I work in the main BA airside hangar and the main hangar lights shook and doors slammed shut. A very very large shockwave. Terrible.
Malc Oakley, Heathrow Airport UK

We're working on the set of space cadets in Ipswich and felt the vibrations of the first explosion as far away as here, the first reaction was that it may have been a car explosion or the like however we felt it more than heard anything which made us go inside and check the internet where we found out about the explosions
Richard Collins, Ipswich England

Woken up by an incredible boom felt through the whole house. We are approx 20 miles away from the explosion and cannot comprehend how loud this must have been for people much closer. Many neighbours also woken up thinking something much closer by had happened.
Mr L Sinclair, Chalfont St Peter

Good morning I was awake at 5.30-6.00 and I heard a sound like low thunder and I felt as if the house shuddered. It gave me a fright - it was a strange sound. I waited in bed for more noise but heard nothing else after that. I got up at 6.30 and saw your news and I thought that that was what I must have heard but at the same time I was disbelieving - it is clearly out of London, until I saw the guy from the weather saying that we could have heard it!
Mai, New Cross London

I am looking down the flight line into Luton Airport and there is NO smoke that would impede flights. The smoke is blowing away from the airport. We felt the explosions at around 0602.
Colin Beatty, Pitstone, Bucks

We were all woken in our house in Chesham just after 6am. We are about 9 miles as the crow flies from Hemel. The whole house shook and windows rattled. My first thought was that an aircraft in the holding area above us may have exploded / crashed, but we have since seen the TV reports about the oil depot. Soon after the explosion, we could see the orange glow of flames to the north-east of here, and now an hour and a half later we can see an immense amount of smoke several thousand feet in the sky covering a very wide area, blocking an otherwise clear sky.
Andy Hardy, Chesham, Bucks

Shortly after six we awoke to an extremely loud boom and crashing noise. We live in a ground floor flat approximately half a mile from the oil depot,

our front room windows have been completely blown into the flat,

we can now see at least 100 feet high flames through what used to be our window.
Jamie Coleman, Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire

I was awake at 6am, reading, and felt as well as heard a sound that reminded me of standing near a volcano in Costa Rica - the depth and rumble of it. I went downstairs to check that everything was OK, and then went back to bed. When I switched on the news I was astounded - I live in Surrey!
Elizabeth Kay,

My colleagues and i were unloading a lorry when we heard what sounded like a massive explosion followed by some sort of aftershock, it shock the roofs and windows of our and the surrounding units. Initially we thought it was a train crash on the line behind us. We are in London NW9 and couldn't believe that we heard and felt the blast.
Pete Chapman, London NW9

I was getting dressed at my partners house this morning at around six for my early shift when the bathroom and bedroom doors both closed on their own quite dramatically. I went round the house looking for an open window that caused the draught. It wasn't until the news broke that we both realised what had caused it. However, the house is in Burnham near Slough which has to be some 35-40 miles from Hemel.
Simon Hepburn, Burnham, Slough Berkshire.

My wife, Sarah and I, live in Leverstock Green in a converted barn, 1 mile away from the explosion.

At just after 6am, there was an apocalyptic boom and it felt as if a plane or similar had hit the house. We ran out of bed expecting the roof to cave in and saw bits of debris: dust and insulation from the roof.

Outside neighbours, were scampering around in night clothes and we spotted a massive fire towards the Buncefield Oil Depot 1 mile up the M1. Flames and smoke plumed and shot upwards leaving a blanket of smoke heading over us and St Albans. This was followed by three further minor explosions.

Other neighbours have lost pieces of boarding, front doors have come off their hinges and allegedly some windows have been blown out.

There exists a strange other-worldly camaraderie that must be reminiscent of the Blitz.

One neighbour claimed that a helicopter or plane had been seen minutes before the explosion but this is sketchy.

All the neighbours are shaky and ringing loved ones. The flames and smoke have not subsided and it will be a few days before the flames are likely to be put on - anyone know Red Adair's phone number?
Laurence Cotterell, Hemel Hempstead





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