VIDEO: Reassurances given over gas leak explosion fears in Sheffield street
An energy firm has sought to reassure the public over concerns that a gas leak could have sparked an explosion in their street.
As many as 60 people - including pensioners aged in their 80s, a wheelchair user and children - were evacuated from their homes in Shiregreen in the early hours of this morning following reports of a 'hissing' sound and a foul smell of gas after workmen hit a pipe.
READ MORE: Council contractors blamed for major gas leak in Sheffield streetPolice knocked loudly on the doors of about a dozen homes in Hatfield House Lane and Winkley Terrace at about 3.30am warning residents to leave the area immediately.
Shocked residents raised concern that the leak could lead to an explosion but gas company Cadent, which owns the pipe that was damaged, said there was no real danger of this happening.
A spokesperson said there is only a real risk of explosion if the leak is confined indoors and with leaks outside the gas simply "escapes into the atmosphere."
He said: "When gas leaks occur indoors and confined spaces gas can build up which presents an explosion risk. Clearly naked flames should be kept away from gas escapes as well.
"Evacuations are done as precautions and routine checks must be carried out at properties in the area to ensure there are no gas readings inside."
A refuge base was set up in the nearby Concord Sports Centre where residents have been gathered since the evacuation. They have been told it could be another 24 hours until they can return to their homes.
A number of bleary-eyed residents told how they initially feared there could be an explosion during the mass evacuation.
Retired nurse Robert Blackett, aged 80, said: "We were asleep when we got a knock on the door from the police.
"We were stunned and wondered what was going on. We put on whatever clothes we could get and left right away.
"Then when we heard it was a gas leak we were very worried. You never know with gas and looking back you fear you could have lost everything."
Mark Myers, aged 55, added: "You fear the worst with things like that. There was a loud hissing sound for a couple of hours, I couldn't get to sleep, and you could really smell the gas coming in through your window."
Road resurfacing work was being carried out on Hatfield House Lane yesterday as part of Sheffield Council's city-wide road improvement programme. Contractors accidentally hit a gas pipe causing the leak.
Police sealed off the road and warned people to stay away from the area. Buses have also been diverted.
Mizan Rouf, an emergency liaison officer for Sheffield Council who has been helping residents at the sports centre, said he had been told it could be anywhere between two hours and 24 hours until residents will be allowed to return home.
He gave reassurances that the authority is doing "everything they can" to support residents and added that the council would look at providing temporary accommodation for those affected if the problem cannot be resolved quickly.
Andrea Wood, aged 57, said: "It's inconvenient, nobody wants this to happen to them. But they have given us bacon sandwiches and drinks and kept us informed.
"We do want to get back as soon as possible though."
Darren Butt, account director for Amey, which is leading the roads improvement programme for the council, said: “Whilst carrying out our road resurfacing work on Hatfield House Lane last night apparatus connected to a gas pipe was damaged which led to a gas leak occurring.
"This is regrettable and we immediately called the emergency National Gas Network and they are currently on site dealing with the situation. We are working with National Gas Network and South Yorkshire Police to ensure that nearby residents remain safe during this time.
"We are sorry for any inconvenience or stress this incident has caused to those living nearby."