FOUR cooling towers were damaged in last night's fire at Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire's chief fire officer has said this morning. 

Dave Etheridge said there were still six fire engines at the scene. 

The blaze at Didcot B station broke out just after 8pm and 60 firefighters were fighting it.

It was brought under control shortly after 10pm and Mr Etheridge said this morning that thankfully nobody was injured in the fire. 

Oxford Mail:

  • Firefighters remain at the scene

He said: "The crews will be there today damping down areas and will remain at the scene probably for a couple of days."

He said the investigation into the cause would now begin but that it was not being treated as arson. 

Npower spokeswoman  Kelly Brown said the plant was only producing half as much power as usual for the National Grid.

She added that firefighters were still on site continuing their investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Ms Brown added: "Our assessment will kickstart after the fire service have left.

"One bank of cooling towers has been unaffected which means the station can still operate but it could take a week or two before the plant is fully operational.

"The assessment of the damage and repair costs won’t start until the fire service has left."

Ms Brown said there were no explosives currently on site at Didcot A power station, where three remaining cooling towers are due to be detonated next year.

About 70 staff work at Didcot B and they are all on site today, she added.

RWE npower also issued the following statement this morning: "RWE Generation can confirm that on Sunday evening a fire broke out in one of the two cooling tower modules of Didcot B power station, a 1.4GW gas-fired power station adjacent to the Didcot A coal-fired power station which closed in 2013.

"The module supplies cooling water to one of the two generating units at Didcot B so 50 per cent of the station output has been affected at this moment in time.

Oxford Mail:

  • Reader Serena Martin sent in this picture of the towers this morning

"RWE power station staff are specifically trained to deal with all emergencies and the coordination plans put in place with local emergency services were put into action swiftly and successfully.

"The fire was brought under control during the night and RWE would like to thank all three emergency services for their swift and effective action. The fire brigade will remain on site during Monday morning for a handover of the cooling towers back to the local RWE team.

"The affected part of the power station was immediately and safely shut down, and all employees accounted for.

"No injuries were recorded to either the emergency services or RWE personnel, and the incident at no time posed a danger to the public. The second generating module at Didcot B is running normally.

"The affected part of the site will remain non-operational until an investigation and repairs can take place.

"It is too early to give any definitive estimate of how long this will be."

Assistant chief fire officer Simon Furlong said: "This was a serious fire which began in one of Didcot B power station's cooling towers and spread to three other cooling towers.

"Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service responded to the scene and worked well to extinguish the fire. We work closely in partnership with the power station to ensure we have plans in place should an incident of this nature actually happen.

"The fire itself was extinguished quickly - there are no reports of injuries, which of course is pleasing.

"As at 10am on Monday we have three fire engines on-scene still, dampening down hot spots and we will continue to have a presence there for at least the next 24 hours.

"An investigation has begun in conjunction with other agencies regarding the cause of the fire. I expect that it will take some time to determine the reasons behind what actually happened."

Reader Steve Shadbolt sent in the image of the smaller towers ablaze.

He said: "I live on Great Western Park and I looked across at the power station and there was this bright light.

"I got my camera and zoomed in and realised one of the towers was alight.

"It burnt so fiercely that it spread to the next one.

  • Video from reader Georgina Mills

Last night a spokesman for RWE Generation, which runs the plant, said the fire was contained in what he described as the cooling tower module.

A spokesman for National Grid said: “We’re aware of the incident and in contact with the station operator RWE. There has been no immediate operational impact on the electricity system.”

Our top stories

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.