Hole opens in road after gas leak drama

UP to 200 people were told to leave their homes yesterday as a major gas leak brought part of a town to a standstill.It came after a huge cavern opened up in the road in Thetford in front of a car driver, who had an amazing escape when part of his Vauxhall Astra dropped down into it.

UP to 200 people were told to leave their homes yesterday as a major gas leak brought part of a town to a standstill.

It came after a huge cavern opened up in the road in Thetford in front of a car driver, who had an amazing escape when part of his Vauxhall Astra dropped down into it.

An off-duty policeman cordoned off the area immediately, but the collapse damaged water and gas pipes, which meant there was a risk of an explosion from any stray spark.

Police moved residents from 70 homes within a 100 metre radius of the leak to a nearby emergency centre "as a precaution" shortly after 1pm, when the gas leak was discovered. It was considered safe for them to return last night, over seven hours after the hole appeared.


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Investigations are now underway to discover what caused the hole at the junction of Sweyn Close and Fulmerston Road.

Police initially believed that the hole had been caused by a water leak. But an Anglian Water spokesman said that, although investigations are ongoing, he thought the void had been there for some time and it was not caused by a burst water main.

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Transco engineers worked for hours to shut off the gas and make the area safe as noxious gas fumes leaked into the air, settling over the whole town.

Some 22 properties in Sweyn Close and Staniforth Road were still without water last night and there were concerns that residents would not be able to use gas heating.

Chris Parodi escaped uninjured after his blue Vauxhall Astra's front wheels fell into the 10ft deep hole that appeared in the road in front of him at 11.30am.

Mr Parodi, 25, clambered free before another collapse in the road left his company car precariously perched over a hole that spanned the road.

Mr Parodi said he was avoiding a 6m by 6m hole on the left-hand side of the road as he turned into Sweyn Close on his way home for lunch.

"I went round the other side to make sure I wasn't anywhere near it. The next thing I knew, the front drivers' side wheel of my car was in a hole.

"It had just opened up in front of me. It was about 10ft deep and quite big," he said.

"Luckily, I managed to get out: there was enough room for me to stretch out and get out onto the road. I stood away from the car. A little later the rest of the road collapsed."

Fire crews from Thetford were on scene from 1pm and an ambulance was called, but paramedics were stood down at about 3pm. No-one was injured.

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