Sunderland families' shock after being evacuated over gas alert

Residents have told of their shock after being evacuated from their homes following a fire at a neighbour's home.

Thursday, 5th April 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th April 2018, 8:41 am
Eighteen properties have been evacuated following the incident.

A woman was taken to hospital with burns after a fire at her home in Plumtree Avenue, in the Red House area of Sunderland.

There is believed at have been a minor gas explosion which led to 18 surrounding homes being evacuated as a precaution.

It is not yet known when the residents will be allowed back into their homes.

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Northern Gas Networks engineers are investigating the cause of the fire, and are carrying out work in the Plumtree Avenue area.

Affected residents have been provided with alternative accommodation after the incident at around 5am on Tuesday.

Among those who were evacuated were Dion Bowes, 42, and his wife Ellen, who live in Plumtree Avenue.

Mr Bowes said: “There was a knock at the door at 6am, and the engineers said there had been a fire at the house two doors down.

Engineers are carrying out investigations to find out the cause of the incident.

“They said they needed to check the gas readings in the other houses in the area to make sure they were fine.

“After they got the results, they evacuated us at 10.30am.

“It was frightening. We hadn’t even heard anything during the night, but the way they’ve dug the whole street up, it must be quite serious.

“The whole block of houses could have gone up for all we know.”

Residents were offered alternative accommodation after being evacuated.

Mr Bowes was alone at the time of the evacuation, with Ellen – who is a carer – at work.

Mr Bowes added: “We’ve been popping backwards and forwards to the house since then.

“I’ve lived in the Red House area since I was two and in this house since 2001.

“There has never been an issue and it’s scary to think something like this has happened so close to home.”

It is not yet known when the residents will be allowed back into their homes.

Another resident who lives nearby said: “I didn’t hear anything during the night, but everyone was talking about it the next morning.

“So many people have been affected, including children, so it must have been frightening for them all.

“They’ve since dug up lots of areas in the street so it looks quite serious.

“I just hope the woman who was injured is going to be OK.”

A spokeswoman for Northern Gas Networks said: “Engineers from Northern Gas Networks were called to an incident in Plumtree Avenue, Sunderland, at 4.45am.

“A woman had been taken to hospital after suffering burns in a fire in a kitchen and investigations are continuing into the cause of the incident.”

Engineers are carrying out investigations to find out the cause of the incident.

Fergal O’Donovan, business operational leader for Northern Gas Networks, said: “The safety of residents is our priority and we have evacuated 18 neighbouring properties as a precautionary measure with residents provided with alternative accommodation where necessary.

“We would like to thank customers for their cooperation.”

Anyone who smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111999. The line is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Residents were offered alternative accommodation after being evacuated.