Five fuel tankers billowed black smoke and ash over a nearby town after exploding near a train line in Purfleet, Essex. Fire brigades rushed to the scene in an attempt to stem the raging inferno on an industrial estate near Botany Way.

Witnesses claimed ash was raining down on the nearby town as four fire engines attempted to tackle the blaze along with specialist equipment, including a foam lorry, Hose Layer and Water Bowser. Essex police set up a cordon around the incident, while train services which would have passed by the blaze have been put on hold.

A police spokesperson described the burning fuel tankers as a “major incident”. Witnesses reported flames billowing from the industrial site, as black smoke plumed above. Nearby residents heard the blasts from their houses as the tankers ignited. But after battling the blaze for more than three hours, the fire was extinguished.