Underground blast hits Suffolk town

A HOSPITAL manager told last night how he saw flames shooting up from a manhole cover after an underground explosion.Ian Stuchbury said he was walking along Weavers Lane in Sudbury when he heard a massive bang and saw a two-foot flame raise the metal cover from the ground.

A HOSPITAL manager told last night how he saw flames shooting up from a manhole cover after an underground explosion.

Ian Stuchbury said he was walking along Weavers Lane in Sudbury when he heard a massive bang and saw a two-foot flame raise the metal cover from the ground.

Firefighters- who feared a methane leak - were called along with electricity and gas officials, while more than 40 residents were without power for hours after the incident yesterday afternoon.

Traffic was diverted as a joint operation was launched to discover the cause.


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Mr Stuchbury, who is deputy estates manager for both the West Suffolk and Walnuttree hospitals, said: “I was walking from the town centre when I heard a big bang.

“I turned round and saw flames leaping up, raising a manhole cover before dropping it back down.

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“There was also a big electrical flash. I was not worried as I was walking on the other side of the road but it could have been nasty if there had been anyone close by.”

Officials at EDF Energy eventually found that the explosion had been caused by an old-style technical junction box sparking underneath one of the manhole covers.

Leading firefighter Jason Vango , who attended the scene opposite Sudbury Fire Station, said: “We were called by a member of the public who said he had seen flames leaping from a manhole cover.

“The cover was lifted from the ground by the flames and there was a lot of burnt sparks.

“We didn't know at first whether it was an electrical or gas fault and we were concerned it could be something to do with methane.

“There was a bit of drama at first but it was all made safe within about two hours of the initial report.”

A spokesman for EDF said last night: “EDF Energy Networks engineers isolated power to 41 customers in Sudbury at 4pm yesterday to make repairs to the underground electricity network.

“Power will be restored as quickly as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience this is causing.”

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