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UPDATED: Gas leak leaves Blackburn roads closed
A FUEL leak and fears of an explosion sparked a five-hour road closure.
A large part of Audley in Blackburn was closed off today after a car parked outside a doctors’ surgery started leaking petroleum gas.
Police shut part of Audley Range, Lambeth Street and the surrounding roads at around 10.40am while fire crews dealt with the leaking Toyota Previa, in the Cornerstone Practice Surgery car park on Lambeth Street.
A 50 metre area was cordoned off and the doctors’ surgery was forced to close while the emergency services were on the scene.
Road blocks were put in place and traffic in the area was diverted by police, while pedestrians were prevented from approaching the area around the surgery.
Blackburn fire crew manager Dave Hilliard said that petroleum gas was potentially more flammable than natural gas, and because it is heavier than air, there was a danger that it could pool in basements or cellars and later ignite.
He said the owners of the car had just filled up the 70-litre tank with gas and driven it to the surgery.
They noticed smoke coming from the car when they arrived and called the fire brigade.
When firefighters arrived, they established the ‘smoke’ was actually gas vapour.
A valve which allowed gas to pass from the fuel tank to the engine was faulty, causing the leak.
Mr Hilliard said: “The valve had broken and was leaking liquid petroleum gas out of the tank.
“It looked like a shoddy repair had been carried out in the past. The people who own the car had only had it for two months and they don’t know where it came from.”
He said that a slight breeze had helped the gas to dissipate and had helped the fire service to prevent an explosion.
Crew manager Charlene Winchester said: “We let the gas disperse into the air. There was a chance that it could have ignited but luckily it didn’t.”
The road was closed for just over five hours while the leak was dealt with, and many local residents and businesses were affected.
Shopkeeper Fatema Makda from Royal Sweet Centre said: “It affected us because the customers couldn’t come inside.
“It had a big effect because people normally pick up things on their way to the mosque and it was very quiet. There were no cars or pedestrians passing by.”
Local resident Shanaz Begum said: “It did worry me, with small children around. You could smell the gas.
“We couldn’t get into a lot of the shops. We had to come all the way round just to go to the chemist.”
Friday prayers were also disrupted because of the leak.
Asif Karolia, secretary of Jamia Mosque said: “It caused problems. People had to walk all the way round to get to the mosque.”
Motorists can pay to have a car converted to run on LPG, which has both financial and environmental benefits.
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