A Dec. 11, 2005, explosion at the Buncefield Oil Terminal near Hemel Hempstead, just northwest of London, injured more than 40 people and damaged nearby buildings, including those occupied by two IT firms, Northgate Information Solutions and 3Com.
At 11:50 a.m. Sunday in southern England, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flew over London on NASA's Terra satellite. Smoke from the refinery fire had fanned several miles south. Almost three hours later, when satellite Aqua flew over, the fire was still burning and the smoke had spread still farther. A faint diagonal line in the upper right corner of this image indicates that the image was created with data taken at two different times. The bulk of the image was acquired at 1:35 p.m., but the upper right corner is from 11:55 a.m. local time.
This satellite image shows southern England on Dec. 10, 2005, one day before the blast. Smoke from the explosion the next morning at Buncefield Oil Terminal, a refinery 25 miles northwest of London, left many Londoners without sun.
The Buncefield oil depot typically stores gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel. Three of four employees who happened to be at nearby Northgate Information Solutions when the blast occurred suffered minor injuries. Northgate determined that damage from the explosion rendered even backup equipment in its building inoperable.
Fire and smoke from the refinery fill the sky near Hemel Hempstead. The European headquarters of networking company 3Com also were damaged, although there were no reports of injuries. The company, whose offices are located about a quarter-mile from the blast site, said damage from the explosion would have minimal impact on its operations.
It is uncertain what the environmental consequences of the refinery fire will be.