This is the scene that people living in Kington Langley saw as they were awoken by sounds like gunshots on Sunday.

The noises were explosions as industrial buildings burned to the ground just metres from their homes.

Around 30 firefighters were called to the huge blaze, which broke out at in a car workshop and spread to a warehouse storage unit belonging to Protective Coating Systems and then to a bed warehouse and one used for aircraft parts at Kington Park in Malmesbury Road, at 8.30am.

Lesley Hopkins, who runs Protective Coating Systems with her husband Daryl, said: “The fire started in a neighbouring warehouse but ours was completely destroyed.”

Neighbours were woken by the sound of exploding gas cylinders and the smell of smoke, and could feel the heat from their gardens overlooking the site.

Leon Dixon, who lives near the building, said: “We could hear these bangs and it sounded like an air gun was being shot outside. I could see all this thick black smoke and then I saw flames coming through the roof – it was quite a sight.”

Residents were evacuated when fire crews, fearing there might be acetylene cylinders inside the burning building, set up a 250m exclusion zone.

Fire group manager Perry Payne said: “We had to make sure people were safe and, because of the devastating effect these cylinders can cause, we had to speak to the house owners and ask them to leave.”

It took 30 firefighters more than four hours to tackle the blaze, and six fire engines, a control unit, water carrier and a damage control unit filled the yard.

Crews were faced with an additional problem when they discovered the unit had an asbestos roof, and they needed to work with the Environment Agency to limit the potential damage.

“When we thought there was acetylene involved and, with the possibility of contamination from the asbestos, it became quite challenging for us,” Mr Perry said.

Kington Park site manager Paul Tyler was alerted to the fire by a neighbour, and arrived before the fire crews.

“One of the units was ablaze when I got there and there were flames and smoke coming out – it was quite scary,” he said.