CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Families are forced out of their homes by gas leak

Firm apologises after evacuation is ordered and roads are sealed off

12 January, 2018 — By Robbie Harb

Firefighters in Maunsel Street yesterday (Thursday)

TWO-hundred people were made homeless for at least two nights after a gas leak triggered a major evacuation.

Cadent, formerly Nat­ional Grid Gas, apologised “sincerely” last night (Thursday) after a chaotic 48 hours saw Pimlico residents ordered to get out of their homes on Tuesday night.

A shelter in the Queen Mother Sports Centre was set up by the Red Cross charity, although many stayed in hotels. A 25-metre exclusion zone was still in place and Horseferry Road was closed to traffic.

Mariam Molina, who lives in Maunsel Road, contacted Cadent after smelling gas.

“My husband and I were having dinner around 9.30pm when the police knocked on the door,” she said. “They told us we had 10 minutes to evacuate the property. The authorities agreed to provide a hotel overnight, but it was in King’s Cross. It was too far – our son had to go to school the next morning and we thought we would be able to go to work. So we ended up booking a hotel.”

Nick Senior and his wife were preparing for bed when police knocked on their door.

He told the Extra: “When they said we had to move, we thought we’d only be gone for an hour or so. But then they said to prepare a bag to stay somewhere else overnight. The smell of gas was becoming stronger and stronger, and it was wafting down the street. It was coming under the door and all the way upstairs. And then loads of policemen came down the road and said ‘just leave, get your stuff and just go’. So of course we panicked.”

Several other residents have complained on Twitter about the lack of communication from Cadent. One said they received a text message at 1.20am on Thursday saying they could now return home, only to be stopped by police when they arrived.

Some residents regained access their properties on Thursday morning, but homes and some buildings in Horseferry Road and Regency Street remained inaccessible last night. Residents are expected to be refunded for hotel costs.

A statement from Cadent Gas, the new name for the National Grid, said they had “identified the source” and that work to fix it “had started immediately and is ongoing”.

It added: “We are continually reassessing the size of the safety cordon and hope to be in a position later today [Thursday] to allow people to reoccupy their homes and businesses.

“Cadent would like to thank residents and businesses for their patience during this incident. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this work has caused.”

A statement from Westminster Council said: “The cause of the leak has now been identified and contained. Cadent have also advised that there is sufficient gas and heat to serve the local area throughout the expected period of the repair.

“A 25-metre cordon remains in place around the repairs and many roads in the surrounding area remain closed to traffic.”

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