Evacuations after Tesco gas leak drama

A NUMBER of properties were being evacuated today after a large gas leak in Haverhill.

RESIDENTS were made to evacuate their homes in a Suffolk town after it was feared a gas leak at a building site could have resulted in a massive explosion.

Emergency services launched a major operation yesterday afternoon after an underground pipe was broken at the site where a new Tesco store is due to open in Haverhill later this year.

Roads surrounding the area in Station Yard were cordoned off by police and residents from a row of terraced houses in The Pightle were told to leave their homes. They were directed to a makeshift safe house manned by council workers at the town's leisure centre.

The drama unfolded from 3.30pm when contractors building the new supermarket ruptured a main in the car park, causing the strong smell of gas to waft around the town with some residents heard complaining of headaches.

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But gas engineers were soon able to downgrade the threat to nearby homes when it was discovered it was a low pressure main which had been hit. People were subsequently able to return to their homes and carry on as normal once the gas supply had been safely switched off.

But residents living in The Pightle face prolonged disruption as work to repair the main, which involves digging up the road, could take as long as a week to complete.

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The incident heavily affected the afternoon traffic in the town with Lord's Croft Lane and the A143 Wratting Road amongst those roads initially closed off to vehicles. Diversions were put on by the Highways Agency.

Simon Spencer, 51, who lives in Lord's Croft Lane, was one of those unable to stay in his home during the incident.

He said: “I have just come back home when the police had just evacuated all the houses. I ended up taking my two dogs out for a walk while they sorted it out.

“I think the emergency services got it right as you cannot take chances with gas. There seemed to be a strong smell of gas earlier on.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said: “We were called to The Pightle in Haverhill at 3.03pm after workers at the Tesco car park struck a large gas main. The Pightle and surrounding areas were cordoned off and houses 1-10 evacuated.

“The situation was not as serious as first thought and persons were allowed back into their homes at 3.33pm.”

She added it is likely the main will take up to a week to repair.

British Gas was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press..

Tesco did not wish to comment

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