A RESIDENT who watched the moment a gas main was ruptured in Tangmere has described the rush to evacuate his street immediately afterwards.
Jem Ballantyne, of Woodfield Close, was watching people excavating on the Bader Heights building site behind his home when one of them hit the pipe at 4.15pm yesterday (October 7).
“There was this roaring jet sound as the gas came out and there was a certain amount of water,” he said.
He said this must have been moisture in the pipe and his first thought was they had hit a water main.
“A bit of mud flew up and they just ran away, they literally ran away,” he said. “I thought it was water. With the noise it just sounded like water.”
After trying the taps in the house he realised the water was unaffected.
We were lucky. It was quite dramatic but we were lucky no one was hurtHana Plechacova
“When I went back out I thought ‘it doesn’t sound like water now, it sounds like something worse has happened’.
“I went to the fence to have a look. The earth was drying. I thought ‘there’s something drastically wrong here’.”
After initially trying to ring demolition company 777, he then rang the police.
“They were excellent. They really were. The lady on there said you need to get everybody out the street and I’ll do the rest for you.
“This thing is roaring away out there, really roaring,” he said.
One of the neighbours whose door he knocked on was Hana Plechacova.
“You always hear about these things but you never expect it will happen to you,” she said.
“We were lucky. It was quite dramatic but we were lucky no one was hurt.”
Residents in Woodfield Close and Chichester Drive were evacuated. They initially took shelter in the Tangmere Village Centre before later being bused over to the Westgate Leisure Centre.
The main was finally fixed at about 3am, with people returning home around 5am.
For Joe Moore, he was on his way home around 11pm when he found out his street was closed.
“It was all cordoned off by police, I wasn’t allowed down,” he said. “It was a massive inconvenience to say the least.”
Fortunately, he was able to stay at his girlfriend’s house and finally got back around 8am.
Miller Homes is the developer working on the former hanger site in Tangmere, which ultimately will be turned into the 160-home Bader Heights development.
“We can confirm there was an incident on our site at Tangmere yesterday evening. SGN completed a temporary repair late last night and are on site today to undertake a permanent repair,” she said.
“We understand residents who were evacuated as a precaution were able to return to their homes this morning and we are now working with our principal contractor on site to investigate the cause of the incident.”
The Observer contacted 777 today (October 8) but was told the company had nothing to do with the incident and Miller Homes should be contacted.
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