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London on Fire
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London on Fire

March 1, 2006

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

This image was acquired at 10:45 GMT on Sunday morning, December 12, 2005 by the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), one of ten instruments aboard Envisat, Europe's largest satellite for environmental monitoring. This Full Resolution mode image has a spatial resolution of 300 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.



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