Fire crews were called to the Essar oil refinery at Stanlow this evening because of a massive flame from the stack.

But Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed there is nothing untoward and 'no incident' despite widespread concern across the area.

People have been taking to Twitter to post comments and pictures of the giant flare which can be seen from miles around.

However, fire service spokeswoman Sian Corrigan confirmed: “There is no incident. I think there is what they call a controlled burn-off. Everything is under control.”

A giant flame coming from the stack at the Essar oil refinery at Stanlow near Ellesmere Port this evening.

She said crews from Ellesmere Port Fire Station were dispatched to the refinery about 7.20pm but it was a false alarm. Appliances have also been sent to other areas in the town because of false alarms triggered by the giant flame.

The flaring stack at Stanlow as seen from Cheshire Oaks on Thursday night

North West Fire Control centre said there had been ‘repeat calls’ concerning the oil refinery and several appliances had been sent in line with procedure.

Video thumbnail, Stanlow Oil Refinery flare
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Oil refinery flare off has everyone wondering

Stuart Cranfield, who lives in Mickle Trafford, rang The Chronicle to say: "I'm just a bit concerned. I was driving home from Macclesfield, coming down Kelsall Hill, the sky was like daylight. I've never seen anything like that before in 14 years of driving on that road."

Mr Cranfield said he was also overtaken by an Audi with a blue light, which he assumed was a fire officer on the way to the scene.

Essar spokesman Ian Cotton said at 8.45pm tonight: "Plant maintenance was being undertaken at Stanlow today and this has caused heavier flaring than normal. The flaring is part of the routine safety system at the refinery and is expected to reduce over the next few hours."

He said the flare was a safety mechanism that allowed gas to be burnt off at the top of the stack.