IT was a week night just like any other in Weavers Reach, Tonedale.
But, when a gas leak prompted residents to be dramatically evacuated from their homes, they reported shock – and a strong dose of community spirit.
Two Wellington fire crews were sent to Weavers Reach at 8.35pm on Wednesday (August 6) to find the culprit: a disposed-of barbecue that, not having been properly extinguished, was melting through a gas main.
Firefighters, flanked by police, began evacuating properties while continuing their attempts to stem the flow of gas, but to no avail.
Many residents weren’t allowed back into their homes until several hours later.
Young mum Sophie Tucker said she was “shocked” when the knock from the fire service came, telling her she had “five or ten minutes” to pack a bag and get 14-month-old daughter Isabelle, kitten George, and Ty the dog, clear of her house.
“I’d just put my daughter to bed when there were sirens outside. Of course, I was in a panic when I was told they were evacuating the whole street, because my baby was upstairs.
“They all seemed relatively calm, but it was quite shocking, and it must have been quite serious if they had had to evacuate. I was the last to be evacuated, so I didn’t know how much time I had.”
Eventually, as a gas engineer began making headway with repairs, fire crews began ventilating properties.
One Weavers Reach family reported being stood outside in nothing but their pyjamas for three hours.
Uffculme School IT manager, Matt Pearce, who lives opposite the house which was the source of the gas leak, said the experience, which saw groups of residents huddled together in various groups in the estate’s vicinity, had proved “nice for community spirit”.
“Our neighbours had just moved in, so they got to know everybody,” he said. “There were about 30 of us communing on the playing fields, and we were all fairly cheerful and happy.
“Nobody was grumbling – we all just got on with it.”
Another resident, who didn’t want to be named, similarly observed: “You don’t know who your neighbours are until something like this happens.”