Homes evacuated and parents alarmed in gas-leak scare

NO-GO ZONE -- a road was shut off while the gas main was repaired.
NO-GO ZONE -- a road was shut off while the gas main was repaired.

Residents had to be evacuated and parents feared for the safety of their children after a gas-leak scare in Kirkby.

One mum described “a strong, overpowering smell of gas” in the Wentworth Road area, near Ashfield School and Greenwood Primary and Nursery School, on Tuesday morning (21st April).

It transpired that contractors working on the new Larwood Park housing development had damaged a gas main in the road on St Mellion Way.

Residents of five nearby homes had to be moved out for several hours while National Grid engineers repaired the main, and an exclusion zone was set up as the leak was contained.

“It was a major scare, especially when you realised the primary school was affected,” said the mum. “I was worried it could have been serious.”

A spokeswoman for Greenwood School said they called National Grid after smelling the gas. “However, we did not have to evacuate the school. We were told to stay indoors and all the children were fine. We weren’t put in any danger.”

Sara Wilcox, of National Grid, said: “It is understandable that people were concerned because there was quite a noticeable smell of gas. We take all gas escapes seriously. Our engineers are trained and qualified to assess the risks and take appropriate steps.

“In this case, we set up a 100-metre exclusion zone, which covered most of the construction site, and evacuated five properties.

“Once we were able to stop the flow of gas, people were allowed to return home during the afternoon.

“Our engineers also knocked on doors, checked for gas levels and dispensed safety advice. Fortunately, we were able to complete the repairs to the gas pipe by the evening. Our engineers have continued to monitor the site to ensure all is well.”

Larwood Park is a Westerman Homes development that will comprise 225 homes and a sports centre. Nearby residents say they have been plagued by problems since building work began.

“It has been dreadful over the last few weeks, what with heavy lorries and dust,” said one woman. “The roads have been blocked and the workers haven’t been cleaning up properly. This gas leak is the last straw and makes you concerned that they are being slapdash. I hope there are serious repercussions.”