Pulborough gas leak ‘could have brought about an explosion’

JPCT 120813 Gas leak, Harwoods garage, Pulborough. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 120813 Gas leak, Harwoods garage, Pulborough. Photo by Derek Martin

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A firefighter has issued gas safety advice following a leak at a Pulborough business on Thursday (August 8).

Staff at a Pulborough business were forced to evacuate, a main road was shut and locals were advised to stay in their homes and refrain from smoking after the leak.

Contractors working in the forecourt outside the Harwoods Group car showroom in London Road may have accidentally pierced the nearby gas main, causing ‘a surprising volume of gas’ to leak, the company said.

Martin McKilligin, watch commander at Storrington fire station, who arrived at the scene around 11.30am, said if an ‘ignition source’ was present there could have been an explosion.

He told the County Times: “We did a bit of door knocking, shut the road, made sure the premises shut down and awaited the arrival of Southern Gas Networks.

“With a large amount of gas leaking, if you do have an ignition source it could have brought about an explosion.

“It could have been quite an incident if an ignition source had taken place but Harwoods were quick to shut their showroom and they did everything they had to do.”

“The wind was moving the gas away, so the danger was minimal but everything was put in place appropriately. There was no real panic.”

West Sussex Fire and Rescue closed the nearby A29 in both directions while the threat of the gas remained, but it was opened again at about 1pm.

The fire service advised locals to stay indoors with windows closed, and asked them to refrain from smoking.

Harwoods briefly evacuated the Land Rover insurance site, but the situation was cleared when the British Gas engineer left the site at about 3pm.

Mr McKilligin offered advice to anyone suspecting a gas leak in their home.

He added: “With gas, even in your own home, there is a potential of danger.

“What we don’t advise is any naked lights or source of ignition. In a confined space gas builds up and it can result in an explosion.”

Harwoods Group was the only building affected by the leak.

For the full story including comments from Harwoods Group, see this Thursday’s County Times.