Firefighters tackling the blaze at a Hertfordshire oil depot have resumed their efforts to put it out. The operation to quell the flames at the Buncefield site in Hemel Hempstead, is said to be making good progress. The fires in all but three of the 20 oil tanks ablaze since early on Sunday have now been extinguished. The final phase of the operation is expected to begin during the morning and it is hoped the blaze could be out by lunchtime, a police spokesman said.
Assistant Chief Constable Robert Beckley, of Hertfordshire Police, said it had been a "challenging night" but that firefighters were now optimistic the fire would be extinguished by the end of the day. He told BBC News: "It's hard to be definite on this but, speaking with my colleagues in the fire service, one or two of them would stake their salaries that it could potentially be out by lunchtime." Once the fire was out, he said people living south of Hemel Hempstead would be warned to stay indoors with their doors and windows closed to protect themselves from potential pollution.
But he said the "main risk" should have passed by the end of the day, enabling lives to return to normal. Fire crews returned to the site on Monday evening after fears of another tank exploding forced them to pull back for several hours. A police spokeswoman said "cooling patrols" took place overnight while firefighters waited to resume work in earnest on Tuesday morning.
The blaze began just after 0600 GMT on Sunday, when the first of a series of explosions hit the site. Forty-three people have been injured. BBC Radio Five Live's Ben Ando, at the scene, said flames were still easily visible in the early hours of Tuesday morning. "There are still flames against the sky, there's certainly still a fire going on there," he said. Schools within a 10-mile radius will be shut on Tuesday and 36 families were spending the night away from home.
The M1 reopened on Monday evening but the entry and exit slip roads at junction 8 and junction 7 for the M10 remained closed, reports BBC news. Photo:AFP I.L.