Blaze-hit Hebburn evacuees safely return home
Jul 10 2009 by Tom Mullen, The Journal
FAMILIES forced to flee their homes after fears a fire could spark a huge gas explosion were finally allowed to return last night.
Hundreds of residents were evacuated when the blaze broke out at a private garage on Glen Street, Hebburn, South Tyneside, on Wednesday night.
Babies and the elderly were among those forced to stay with friends or family for the night as a 200-metre exclusion zone was put in place, stretching to nearby Lincoln Court and Buchanan Street.
The fire, which started in a skip, came dangerously close to explosive acetylene and oxygen cylinders, which were reportedly glowing red from the heat.
Residents with nowhere to go remained huddled at the nearby Hebburn Community Centre, Metro services in the area were also halted.
But finally, at 8pm last night, the area was deemed safe by firefighters and residents have now returned.
Most had spent the night with friends, but the few with nowhere to go were put up in the Quality Hotel in Boldon, paid for by South Tyneside Council.
Joe Abbott, councillor for Hebburn North, said: “It’s all over. Thank God. What a nightmare for everyone.
“Thankfully, there were only about 10 people who had to be taken to the hotel in the end, including a couple with a six-month-old baby.
“It now remains for the police and fire services to try to get to the bottom of what happened here.”