Chester gas main inferno leaves school closed for week as 2,250 properties affected

-Credit: (Image: Andrew Boycott)
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Boycott)


Around 2,250 Chester properties have been impacted by the gas main fire on Friday evening (June 21). Three schools, a care home, a supermarket and several churches were among those hit, according to Cheshire West and Chester Council, with 'many' yet to have supplies restored.

An investigation is underway into what caused the blaze, directly outside Dee Banks School on Dee Banks, Great Boughton, at around 8.16pm, according to Cadent Gas. Nearby residents were evacuated until the fire was brought under control after midnight.

The fire was quenched by cutting the gas supply to Dee Banks, leaving more than 2,000 properties in east Chester without gas. Cadent Gas said on Monday that gas supplies would start to return to some properties later in the day.

READ MORE: Dramatic images of Chester gas main inferno as 'many' homes still without supply | Firefighters spent hours tackling the huge blaze as residents face being without gas for a fourth night

READ MORE: Residents evacuated as gas main ignites outside Chester school | Video shows a fireball outside Dee Banks School, with flames leaping high above houses

The fire on Dee Banks — which was already closed due to major works by Severn Trent laying a water pipeline between Huntington and Boughton — has led to the closure of Dee Banks School all this week. The council is removing a leaning lamp column from the car park.

Huntington Community Primary School remains open despite being cut-off from the gas supply. Combi ovens are allowing normal lunch arrangements there. Nearby, Bishops’ Blue Coat Church of England High School and Boughton Heath Academy are unaffected by the gas supply issues. The council's public health team has advised residents there is "no hygiene concern" in washing with cold water.

The fire on Dee Banks on Friday evening -Credit:Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
The fire on Dee Banks on Friday evening -Credit:Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

A Cheshire West and Chester Council spokesperson said: "On Friday evening (21 June) there was a gas main ignition on Dee Banks, Chester, where a gas pipe had ruptured and ignited. As part of the multi-agency response, Cheshire Fire and Rescue attended to oversee a controlled burn until the gas supply had been capped by Cadent Gas, and the Council’s Emergency Response process was activated.

"Around 2,250 properties have been affected in the surrounding areas in East Chester, including three schools, one care home, one supermarket and several churches. Many remain without a gas and/or electricity supply. Cheshire West and Chester Council continues to support colleagues at Cadent to enable them to carry out the necessary repairs as quickly as possible to the ruptured gas pipe. Cadent have been making good progress visiting those affected.

"Council staff were at the site at the weekend, whilst others have been supporting the Council’s response to the incident, liaising with schools, residents and local businesses. Dee Banks School has taken the decision to close for the rest of this week, and parents have been advised of this. In the meantime, the Council is arranging for the removal of a leaning lamp column in Dee Banks Primary School car park. Part of the car park will be barriered off before the school reopens.

"Huntington Community Primary School is open to all pupils and staff, and whilst the school still does not have a gas supply, they are able to use combi ovens to provide normal lunch arrangements. Bishops’ Blue Coat Church of England High School and Boughton Heath Academy have not been impacted by the gas situation and are operating normally.

-Credit:Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
-Credit:Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

"The Council’s schools team continues to provide support to all the local schools. Cadent and Severn Trent are working together and have set up an incident unit to coordinate their operations. A customer support centre is set up at St Luke’s Church in Chester Road, where Cadent are answering queries from customers impacted. There is also a dedicated Cadent phone line for customers, which is 0808 178 8085 (8am to 8pm).

"Food vans are serving hot meals from 12 noon to 6pm at St Luke’s, and hot shower facilities are offered by Chester Rugby Club. Updates are being shared on www.cadentgas.com/loss-of-gas-chester as well as on social media channels (Cadent’s, as well as the council’s and others). Council staff will remain in the area whilst the disruption continues to offer reassurance and support to residents and businesses."

A spokesperson for Cheshire West and Chester Council's Public Health team said: "The Council’s Public Health team would like to reassure those communities affected that there is no hygiene concern in relation to washing with cold water. So long as soap/handwash is used, and hands are washed thoroughly for 20 seconds or more, it is fine to use cold water."

Earlier on Monday, Phil Hendrick, leading Cadent’s response to the incident, said: “Our team has worked through the weekend to prepare the network for the reintroduction of gas. This is a careful and meticulous process, with safety our top priority. We are hopeful we can start to restore supply to some properties later today, but for many the gas will remain off again overnight. We are sorry about that.

“We know it is not nice to be without gas and our team is incredibly grateful for the patience and understanding you have shown so far. A big thank you to everyone, including the many organisations and individuals who have supported us. The circumstances of what caused this will be investigated, but our priority right now is to restore gas supply, as quickly as we are safely able to. We have had an army of engineers here in Chester to deal with this incident, and we will stay here in big numbers until this incident is concluded.”

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