EVACUATED residents today faced a third day away from their homes after bomb squad officers carried out a controlled explosion of chemicals.
Emergency services last night called off searches at the property on Ridgehill Avenue, Intake, Sheffield, where the chemicals were found.
Searches are expected to continue until this afternoon when it will be decided whether it is safe for residents to return to their homes.
A local man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to produce class A drugs and under the Explosives Act.
A police spokesman said: “The safety of the public is of paramount importance. Everyone evacuated has been found somewhere to stay overnight.”
‘BOMB’ SOUND HEARD IN CONTROLLED BLAST
DOZENS of people were evacuated from their homes for hours as Army experts and emergency services carried out a controlled explosion on chemicals that sounded like a ‘bomb’.
A loud bang was heard as the explosion was made by a bomb disposal squad on Ridgehill Avenue, Intake, Sheffield, at about 1.30pm yesterday to safely dispose of the ‘potentially hazardous’ chemicals.
Hundreds of motorists and Supertram passengers were also affected as Ridgeway Road - a tram route and part of the outer ring road - was also shut for about a mile.
It was the second time families had been evacuated in just two days after chemicals were first found on Thursday.
A detailed follow-up search had found more of the materials.
Brian Platts, 77, of Ridgeway Drive, said: “I heard bangs in World War Two and it was very reminiscent of a dull bomb sound.
“I went to the back door and all the birds flew up when it happened.”
Others said the explosion was ‘like a box of fireworks going off’ and ‘louder than a shotgun’.
Kate Brandon, manager of nearby care home, said: “We all heard it, it sounded like a muffled bang.”
The drama followed similar scenes on Thursday when police first found chemicals at an address on Ridgehill Avenue - and evacuated residents until around 10pm that night.
A 34-year-old local man, who was arrested for allegedly attempting to produce class A drugs, has now been arrested under the Explosives Act.
Police said residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure as safety was paramount and thanked them for their patience during the complex operation.
Insp Paul Ferguson, who was at the scene, said: “On Thursday following information we did a search of the property and in doing do came across some substances which gave us cause for concern.
“A safe way of dealing with it was by controlled explosion.
“We are aware of the disruptions caused but this is about public safety.”
Fire, police and ambulance vehicles, as well as an Army bomb squad unit from Chilwell, surrounded Ridgehill Avenue with police tape blocking all three entrances off.
For a time pedestrians were also not able to use Ridgeway Road as it was closed from Manor Top to Hollinsend Road until around 2.15pm.
Trams were suspended.
Many people were diverted from going to work or to see relatives.
Gillian Doszczeczko, 61, was trying to visit her 91-year-old father Donald Furness in flats nearby.
Officers managed to pass a message on to her that he was okay.
She said: “I understand it’s only for our care and safety that they’ve closed the road but there are elderly people in there who need looking after.”
Many people watched the scenes unfold yesterday in a near repeat of the day before.
David Burke, 68, said: “I thought it was all finished on Thursday but they came back in force today.”
After the controlled explosion, Ridgeway Road reopened.
But searches continued at the property where chemicals had been found for several hours.
Police said they were aiming to end disruption as soon as possible but would not jeopardise safety.
FRUSTRATION OVER DOUBLE EVACUATION
SHOCKED residents were ‘frustrated’ at being evacuated from their homes for the second time in just 48 hours.
Householders said they had only been allowed back in their properties at around 10pm on Thursday when they were asked to leave again on Friday morning - and had been given little information.
Mum Amanda Brooker, of Ridgehill Avenue, had stayed in York where she works in human resources overnight on Thursday and still did not know when she would get home at 5pm yesterday.
She said people needed to go home to look after pets and pick up medication.
Mrs Brooker added: “I have been in the same clothes for two days, it has been 48 hours of disruption.
“The emergency services were there for more than nine hours on Thursday and they were there from 10am on Friday.
“I’m very frustrated by all of it.”
An evacuation centre was set up at the United Reform Church on Norfolk Street, Sheffield city centre, and volunteers were on stand by.
A minibus was provided for residents to travel there and the council had planned on 150 people potentially turning up. But everyone chose to be taken elsewhere.
One resident who couldn’t go home, a female health worker who would not be named, said: “I’ve just come back from work and found out I can’t get in my house again.
“I am pig sick of it.
“They were here long enough on Thursday and they should have found it all then.”