THE principal of Seevic College has described the horrific moment he saw a car explode in its car park.
Nick Spenceley was in his office, which overlooks the car park, just before 5pm on Thursday when he heard a massive bang.
Looking out the window, he saw a huge fireball and immediately ran outside.
He said the fire was so intense he “couldn’t get within 20ft of the flames”.
Mr Spenceley said, although most of the students had gone home, some college pupils were leaving the building as the blast happened.
He said: “I was at the scene in about 30 seconds, but I couldn’t get close to the flames.
“I had to make sure there were no students near the fire and everyone was safe.”
Mr Spenceley said he had been keeping an eye on social media the evening of the explosion and decided bringing the pupils into college the next morning for aminute’s silence was “the right thing to do”.
He added: “We are a very close community, so I find it is best to be together after something like this happens. If people have stayed off, I respect that, but I feel it is good to get back to an everyday routine.
“I wanted to see what the students were saying about it on Facebook and a lot of people were paying tribute to the person who had died. A number of people were saying they thought college should be called off for the day while others were saying, although there was no suggestion of it being a student, there should be a tribute.
“All of the classes stopped at 10am for a minute’s silence. It seemed the right thing to do.”
Some students said they were surprised college hadn’t been suspended for the day.
Luke Jury, 18, from Thundersley, said: “I was following it on Twitter. I didn’t know about it until 8pm. College generally finishes before 5pm, so I didn’t see it happen, but it’s shocking this happened in school grounds.
“Everyone was talking about it online.
A lot of people were curious about why it happened at school. It’s lucky it wasn’t nearer the actual college.”
Bradley Appleton, 18, from Chelmsford, said: “It is very tragic news and I am surprised we are at college today. The principal has done the right thing by holding a minute’s silence, as you can’t pretend stuff like this hasn’t happened.”