A BYSTANDER has said he “nearly jumped out of his skin” after a tarmac-laying machine exploded in Bexleyheath, just yards away from where he was standing.

The Blaw-Knox machine had just finished laying a new road surface on Glynde Road, in Bexleyheath.

It was being driven to Percy Road to carry out more repairs when it caught fire on Avenue Road at around 1.30pm on Friday (December 14).

Cleaning contractor Brian Barnett, 54, of Pickford Lane, was on the B11 bus when he saw the machine in flames.

He said: “We came up to the area and all of a sudden I saw it on fire.

"We stopped and the road workers, who were staying back, were telling us to get out of the way.

"We were about 50 yards back. Then it exploded, we nearly jumped out of our skin!”

In a video of the explosion on the News Shopper website, someone can clearly be heard yelling: “It’s full up of diesel, get away!”

A Bexley Council spokeswoman has said the fire started underneath the machine from a suspected electrical fault, but it is not confirmed.

The driver of the machine did not sustain any significant injuries after jumping clear of the fire before it exploded.

Rosemary Richards, 81 of Avenue Road, said: “I heard it explode and that’s when I ran to the window.

“I saw it on flames. I have never seen anything so completely ablaze like that before.

“There were a lot of people outside taking pictures on their mobile phones while the fire men were putting it out. They towed it away the next morning.

“The road was closed until early evening.”

The London Ambulance Service sent one crew to the scene and treated a man in his 20s for a burn to his face.

They took him to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.

A spokeswoman from London Fire Brigade said it took them until 2.30pm to control the blaze. They said the lorry had “100% damage”.