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Envisat Sees Smoke From Europe's Worst Peacetime Fire

Date:
December 12, 2005
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
London is completely blanketed by the black plume of smoke from Europe's worst peacetime fire in a new Envisat image, taken within five hours of the blaze beginning. The image was acquired at 10:45 GMT on Sunday morning by the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), one of ten instruments aboard Envisat, Europe's largest satellite for environmental monitoring. This Reduced Resolution mode image has a spatial resolution of 1200 metres, and shows the cloud spread across a span of around 140 km.

This Envisat MERIS Reduced Resolution mode image was acquired 11 December 2005 at 10:45 GMT, and shows the smoke cloud from the Buncefield oil depot fire. The depot is located on the edge of Hemel Hempstead, above the cloud around the middle of the image crop seen here (about where the tendril of white cloud touches the black smoke) with the conurbation of London to the south. The full image has a width of 1284 km and a spatial resolution of 1200 metres.
Credit: ESA

London is completely blanketed by the black plume of smoke from Europe's worst peacetime fire in a new Envisat image, taken within five hours of the blaze beginning.

The image was acquired at 10:45 GMT on Sunday morning by the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), one of ten instruments aboard Envisat, Europe's largest satellite for environmental monitoring. This Reduced Resolution mode image has a spatial resolution of 1200 metres, and shows the cloud spread across a span of around 140 km.

The pall of smoke comes from a fire at Buncefield oil depot on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead. Buncefield is the fifth largest fuel storage depot in the UK, distributing millions of tonnes of petrol and other oil products per year, including aviation fuel to nearby Luton and Heathrow Airports.

Buncefield is located at the topmost part of the cloud, with light winds blowing the smoke south-west and south-east to cover a large part of Southern England. On Monday morning firefighters began laying down 250 000 litres of foam to control the blaze, which is reported to be the largest industrial fire in Europe since 1945.

The fire began with a series of explosions taking place on Sunday morning at around 06:00 GMT. Nobody was killed in the explosion but 43 people have been injured, and more than 2000 people have been evacuated from the vicinity of the depot.

All but seven out of 26 storage tanks at the depot are currently burning – each tank contains more than 13 million litres of fuel. Health experts have warned susceptible people to avoid breathing in the acrid black smoke. The heat of the fire has driven smoke particles high into the sky, with aircraft reporting pollution reaching above 2750 metres, and the cloud stretching from East Anglia to Salisbury Plain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Envisat Sees Smoke From Europe's Worst Peacetime Fire." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051212163313.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2005, December 12). Envisat Sees Smoke From Europe's Worst Peacetime Fire. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051212163313.htm
European Space Agency. "Envisat Sees Smoke From Europe's Worst Peacetime Fire." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051212163313.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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