Homes evacuated as gas leak causes night of problems in Portsmouth

3/2/12   JN''Gas leak on Tangier Road, Portsmouth causes disruption. Pictured are Police officers giving members of the public help in Tangier Road.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (120408-3)
3/2/12 JN''Gas leak on Tangier Road, Portsmouth causes disruption. Pictured are Police officers giving members of the public help in Tangier Road.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (120408-3)
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RESIDENTS have been allowed back into their homes after being evacuated more than 20 hours ago because of a gas leak.

The leak was discovered near Tangier Road, in Baffins, about 10 yards from the railway line where building work is taking place on an old bowling green.

An empty train at Hilsea station

An empty train at Hilsea station

It’s believed workers there hit a live gas main, damaging pipes and causing gas to escape.

The incident caused chaos for commuters as all trains in and out of the city were cancelled for four hours. Services later resumed with only diesel trains allowed to operate on the line. This continued to be the case until midday today.

Police were called shortly after 4.20pm and put up cordons to close part of Copnor Road around the railway bridge, as well as nearby residential roads, just as the busy rush hour was beginning.

Around 60 nearby homes were evacuated, and residents from nine properties had to stay away overnight.

Most stayed with family and friends, and a few were found alternative accommodation by Portsmouth City Council.

Residents from the nine properties, odd-numbered properties between 1 and 17 Tangier Road, have now been told they can return home.

James Pattie, 45, and his partner, who live in Tangier Road, were forced to spend the night in a bed and breakfast.

‘We saw all the police and firefighters turn up across the road and there was a terrible smell of gas,’ he said.

‘Then after half an hour they told us we had to leave, so we wandered around for two hours without knowing where to go.

‘It was freezing cold and it was lucky we bumped into a policeman who told us about a council shelter which had been set up nearby.

‘For a while it seemed like no-one knew what was going on.’

The Moneyfields Sport and Social Club, in Moneyfields Avenue, was turned into an evacuation shelter last night but was only visited by a handful of people.

Another rest centre was opened this morning at St Joseph’s Church Hall in Tangier Road, which operated until 11.30am when residents were allowed home.

Having been closed from the Eastern Road to Copnor Road, Tangier Road fully reopened to through traffic last night. Copnor Bridge also reopened in both directions last night.

Long tailbacks were reported during the incident as motorists tried to find alternative routes.

Trains were also effected and ran on a restricted service with replacement buses until midday.

Justin Melehi, 25, of Elm Grove, Southsea, was stranded at Hilsea station for 45 minutes after he had finished work.

‘It was very annoying and frustrating,’ he said.

‘These things always take so much longer to sort out than they should.

‘And on a Friday night after a busy week you just want to go home, not stand in the freezing cold for ages waiting for a taxi.’

Adam Barister, 22, of Foster Road, in Gosport, said: ‘I was already on the train when they told everybody to get off. That was the first I knew about it.’

Engineers from Southern Gas Networks worked throughout the night to fix the damage and have now resolved the problem.

Investigations are underway to find out how the damage was caused.