A MAJOR fire at Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port has now been extinguished.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service were called at around 2.15pm today (Wednesday) to the SHOP chemical plant at the Stanlow site on Oil Site Road.

All staff were accounted for and were evacuated.

Six fire engines attended the scene and crews worked alongside onsite firefighters from Essar.

The fire was fully extinguished in around three hours.

Large plumes of smoke could be above the site and residents nearby said they could hear a 'loud explosion'.

Brian Howell, 60, said he was relaxing in the Eastham Ferry area, around eight miles away, before he “heard a loud ‘whoosh’ type explosion."

He added: “I looked over to Stanlow and there was an aggressive fire and lots of black smoke.”

It is believed that the incident was confined to the manufacturing area of the site and did not affect the refinery.  

Inspector Richard Reeves from Cheshire Police said: “We understand that this incident may have caused alarm to the local community and we would like to reassure people that it has not affected the wider area and there are not believed to be any risks to the public.”

Video sent in by Lewis Gouldson (Twitter: @Lewi_Gouldso98)

The Environment Agency have been informed and are managing the water being used at the scene.

According to owners Essar Oil UK's website, Stanlow refinery employs more than 900 staff and 500 contractors on site and supplies 16% of all road transport fuels.

Essar Oil's website says: “The site produces a range of oil products including about one sixth of Britain’s transport fuels annually - about 4.4 billion litres of diesel, 3 billion litres of petrol and 2 billion litres of jet fuel."

The Ellesmere Port oil refinery was bought from Shell in 2011.

In a statement, Essar said: "Earlier this afternoon a fire occurred at the SHOP chemical plant, close to the Manchester Ship Canal. 

“Both Stanlow’s own site Emergency Services Team and the Cheshire County Fire Service attended to deal with the incident. 

"All personnel on the SHOP unit were quickly accounted for. 

"The fire has now been extinguished.

“Operations and production of fuels and other products from Stanlow Refinery have not been affected.

 “All supplies to customers are normal.”

 Fire crews remain at the site.