Three remaining cooling towers at a power station in Didcot, England were demolished in a controlled explosion on Sunday (August 18) – but witnesses who had gathered to watch fled in panic as power lines were brought down.

Thousands of homes in Oxfordshire were left without power after the demolition and local residents who had gathered to watch said the explosion had appeared to affect electrical cables in the surrounding area.

Video shows the moment of the demolition and then electrical cables in flames and eyewitnesses describing sparks “flying everywhere” as police and paramedics arrive on the scene.

“All of a sudden it was like a big fireball above us,” one local woman said. “We all started running. We had our children with us.”

Another man said: “I was stood underneath the pylon and then suddenly there were sparks everywhere. I’m burnt on my jacket. I even fell over and rolled out of the way.”

Another man said: “We were standing underneath it (a cable), there was a massive great bang and sparks, we looked up and the whole lot was in flames and sparking. Everybody was running everywhere. It burnt the bonnets of the cars underneath there. It burnt my jacket.”