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Some body panels were blasted across the road and into the nearby field, while the roof of the van was peeled back in two sections to the front and rear of the vehicle by the force of the blast.
Emergency teams were concerned that another canister might also explode, so Lime Kiln Lane was closed to traffic from the junction with Tickhill Road to School Lane in Stainton for about an hour.
Residents of Stainton, which is more than half a mile away from the lay-by, said they were unaware of the van having been parked on the lane before Wednesday night.
Staff at The Three Tuns pub had not heard the explosion and did not know anything about the van dweller. The wrecked van was yesterday taken away by Doncaster Council staff as the police continued their investigation into the incident, which they said was not suspicious.