Staff's panic after underground explosion shakes Sunderland building

A company director has told of the terrifying moment an underground explosion shook a building in Sunderland.

A small explosion took place after an electricity surge underneath a footpath in St Luke's Terrace, Pallion, at about 11.50am today.

Anthony James Property director Sally Coatsworth next to the underground explosion on St Lukes Terrace, Pallion.

Anthony James Property director Sally Coatsworth next to the underground explosion on St Lukes Terrace, Pallion.

Police, fire officers and Northern Power Grid workers were called to the scene, and no injuries were reported.

There was an interruption to power for almost 2,000 customers, with power restored by 1pm.

A police cordon was put in place outside Anthony James Property, in St Luke's Terrace.

Company director Sally Coatsworth, along with three other staff, were left “shaken” by the incident, and the uncertainty which followed.

Anthony James Property director Sally Coatsworth next to the underground explosion on St Lukes Terrace, Pallion.

Anthony James Property director Sally Coatsworth next to the underground explosion on St Lukes Terrace, Pallion.

She said: "It was pretty scary.

"We didn't know what it was and it was a frightening time for all of us.

"There was a loud bang, the building shook and all of the lights and power went out.

"We saw flames through the windows and all jumped to the back of the office.

Workers at Anthony James Property were initially unaware of what had happened.

Workers at Anthony James Property were initially unaware of what had happened.

"We were worried a lorry or car was coming through the window or that something might have exploded in a bin.

"The fire went down and we went outside, where we saw a big hole in the pavement.

"All of the paving stones were black and smoking."

Sally feels the incident could have been a lot worse.

Underground explosion on St Luke's Terrace, Pallion.

Underground explosion on St Luke's Terrace, Pallion.

She added: "It could have been a lot different if someone had been standing there.

"People walk around that corner all the time and it's very lucky there was no one there then.

"Thankfully no one was hurt but we were quite shaken up.

"It was made all the worse because we didn't know what was going on."

Properties in the area have reported a loss of power.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "At about 11.50am this morning, police received reports of a small underground fire on St Luke's Terrace in the Pallion area of Sunderland.

Damage was caused to paving stones after the explosion.

Damage was caused to paving stones after the explosion.

"Police attended along with colleagues from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and found there had been a small explosion underneath a footpath in the area.

"A cordon has been put in place but nobody was injured, and the fire service are now carrying out inquiries along with colleagues from the Northern Power Grid."

A Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "There was an electricity surge at the sub-station on St Luke's Terrace.

"We are there along with police and colleagues from the Northern Power Grid."

A spokeswoman for Northern Power Grid said: “We restored power by switching power through alternative routes on our network with 1,127 of our customers back on at 12.51 pm and the remaining 802 customers back on at 1.02 pm.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience whilst we worked to get their lights back on and reassure them that faults like this are not a common occurrence.”