Bridgnorth returns to normal after gas leak drama
Bridgnorth High Street was returning to normal today after a major gas leak caused chaos and confusion, leaving it looking like a "ghost town".
Work to fix a gas pipe has been completed, but engineers remain on site to monitor readings after a faulty electrical cable above the pipe caused a small explosion on Monday afternoon.
Buildings were evacuated and emergency services and engineers rushed to the scene after a strong smell of gas was reported.
Police and fire crews evacuated the street, with some people having to use emergency housing for the night.
Engineers finished the work yesterday. Residents are back in their homes and businesses are open again as usual.
Anthony Quarrell, spokesman for Cadent, said: "Work to install the new gas service pipe was completed yesterday (Tuesday 21 May). Our engineers continue to have a presence on site to monitor gas readings. Suspected gas escapes should be reported on 0800 111 999."
Cadent workers are remaining until the readings go down due to the large amount of gas that escaped from the pipe.
The leak caused panic in the busy high street as drinkers were left locked in pubs and shop owners were forced to abandon their posts.
A number of shops were left with flickering lights or no electricity before police and fire crews conducted the evacuation.
Several residents had to be housed for the evening by Bridgnorth Town Council and there was a large cordon in place with a big presence of firefighters, police and gas and electricity engineers working to make the area safe.
Charlotte Davies, bar manager at The Crown, said a loss of power was followed by urgent calls from emergency services to close all entrances and exits.
"Our lights and our tills were flickering on and off as well as the kitchen equipment and after a while everything just went dark," she said.
"The fire service came not long after and told us to close all the doors and not let anyone go in or out of the building. They then came around the back and asked us to evacuate urgently so we locked everything up and left.
"We didn't know what was going on. We heard it was a gas leak but no one was really sure.
"Just before we evacuated you could smell the gas as soon as you opened the door onto the High Street – it was a little scary to be honest."
The road reopened at about 9am yesterday, with business owners being able to return to their premises throughout Monday night and into yesterday morning.
Tenants at The Crown were able to return at about 9pm, while employees at Superdrug, near where the main repairs were carried out, had to return in the early hours to lock up the store.
Chi Yau, store manager of Superdrug, said: "It was a very different experience that nobody was quite prepared for.
"We were told at 1am we could come back so we had to come and lock up.
"At the time you had all the shop owners and residents waiting at the top of the street not quite knowing what was going on.
"I thought it would be an hour-long inconvenience at the most, so when it continued into the night you could tell it was a serious incident."
Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service said the cause of the leak was a fault in an electrical cable sat above a gas pipe, which caused a small explosion and ruptured the gas main.
Bridgnorth Fire Station said: "Thank you to everyone who evacuated so quickly without argument. Great team effort to keep Bridgnorth High Street safe.
"Apparently it’s very rare for this kind of damage to occur. We have been incredibly lucky it didn’t ignite the gas."
Cara Hickman, director of Urban Angel on High Street said: "All the emergency services were here more or less straight away.
"It's phenomenal that they evacuate us to safety and dive straight into danger, hats off to them all, their courage amazes me every time."