People living near the Texaco in Bell Hill Road told The Week In that they were woken by a huge explosion at around 3am. Some thought it was a bomb going off.
The cash machine, which is part of the Costcutter shop at the rear of the site, behind the petrol pumps, was blow apart in the blast but it is not yet known whether any money was stolen.
Police and fire crews were soon on the scene and the area remained cordoned off today as police forensics officers and fire investigators with sniffer dogs scoured the area.
Richard Pomphrey, 63, who lives a couple of doors down from the Texaco, said the blast had thrown the front of the cash machine about 60ft across the road. He said he had gone out and moved the blazing cover away from a nearby car as he feared that the flames might spread to the vehicle.
He said it was lucky that no one had been driving past at the time, and that the fire in the cashpoint had not spread to the petrol pumps.
“There could have been a potentially fatal accident,” he said. “The people who did this are absolute lunatics. They have a total disregard for people and property.”
Another neighbour, John Roach, said he at first thought the loud noise that woke him was a car crash on the A420 as there had been accidents before.
He said that he heard the revving of a moped after the explosion.
The 71-year-old said a few years ago thieves had attempted to remove the cashpoint by trying to tow it away.