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Station blaze smoke shrouds Thames

PUBLISHED: 16:35 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 23 August 2010

BLACK smoke billowed across the River Thames after an internal fault caused a power station to catch on fire, writes Jason Goodyer. Firefighters battled the blaze at Tilbury power station for more than two hours after a failure in a high pressure oil lin

BLACK smoke billowed across the River Thames after an internal fault caused a power station to catch on fire, writes Jason Goodyer.

Firefighters battled the blaze at Tilbury power station for more than two hours after a failure in a high pressure oil line caused it to burst into flames at about 2.50pm last Wednesday.

Dawn Johnson, 51, a project support worker, of Ridgeway Avenue, Gravesend, saw the smoke pouring out of the building from across the river while going along West Street on the bus home.

She said: "I was a bit surprised as you don't see power stations catching on fire that often. It is a landmark building really, you can't miss it. You can see the chimneys from miles around.

"My first though was that as it is such a big building, has everybody managed to get out?'"

Flames ravaged the building and at its peak the fire covered an area measuring 200m by 300m, some 25 per cent of the station.

Eight pumps and an aerial ladder platform attended the scene and had the blaze under control by around 5.20pm.

Divisional officer Mick Osborne, of Essex Fire Service, said: "Crews did a magnificent job isolating the fire to where it began.

"It did spread to the roof of the turbine from the fifth floor where it started.

"There are no casualties as power station workers were evacuated immediately. Power to where the incident is located has been isolated."

A spokesperson for RWE npower said all staff, contractors and visitors at the plant had been evacuated and were safely accounted for.

The 1,062-megawatt power station was offline while routine maintenance work was being carried out and power generation was not affected.

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