1,100 households facing days without gas supplies after mains pipe damaged
- Credit: Simon Parkin
Hundreds of households have been left facing days without heating, hot water or being able to cook after damage to a gas mains pipe.
About 1,100 homes and 200 businesses in Eye had their gas supplies disconnected following the damage to the mains pipe on the industrial estate at Eye Airfield on Monday night.
In a major operation 30 engineers from local gas network Cadent were forced to visit every affected household and business in the town, close to the Norfolk-Suffolk border, to switch off the gas supply, in some cases obtaining warrants to access empty properties.
Cadent incident controller Kate Jones said another team was working around the clock to repair the pipe which was damaged by a third party. Once the work is complete engineers will have to return to every property again to reconnect gas and test supplies.
Families are facing multiple nights without gas supplies. A customer centre has been set up at Eye Community Centre for people can get information and emergency electric blankets, heaters and hobs, while a special hotline has been set up to help vulnerable people.
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Ms Jones: 'We are ensuring customers in vulnerable situations – elderly people, those who are chronically sick, people with disabilities, families with babies or very young children – are getting assistance.
'At this stage we don't know exactly how long this process is going to take but it could be Friday before we get everyone back on gas.'
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Kirsty Smith, who has a 10-month-old daughter, was amongst those seeking help. She said: 'The gas went off last night. I had to take my daughter to her grandparents because I can't keep the house warm.
'They have given me a heater but it's not very big so we will probably have to gather up as many heaters as we can to try to keep warm and it'll be microwave meals tonight.'
Sam Dobell, who has children aged 11, nine and one, had picked up a heater and hob. 'I discovered we had no gas when I tried to cook porridge for the kids this morning,' she said.
'They said it could be up to three days before we are reconnected. It is going to be a case of hot water bottles and woolly jumpers.'
Among the businesses affected was the Eye fish and chip shop and the Pizza House, on Magdalen Street, both of which were displaying signs saying closed until further notice.
Householders being urged to make arrangements for engineers to be able to access properties to reconnect them.
Ms Jones said: 'The sooner we are able to switch every supply off, the quicker we will be able to get gas back on to everyone. All our engineers carry ID badges, so check their ID before allowing anyone into your home.'
Anyone who knows of someone in a vulnerable situation or who wants more information about the incident call 0345 8351111.