Underground cable fire cause of CO gas leak

The scene at Spencer Road, Waterside on Mondayafternoon. DER3015MC009
The scene at Spencer Road, Waterside on Mondayafternoon. DER3015MC009

Spencer Road re-opened yesterday following Monday’s carbon monoxide (CO) leak, which was traced to a fire in an underground cable.

The alert started at 10.45am on Monday, when the electricity went off in a cafe, and initial air quality checks revealed a high level of CO in the air. Two members of staff and the tenant in an upstairs flat, who had been complaining of headaches, were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

The scene at Spencer Road, Waterside on Monday afternoon. DER3015MC010

The scene at Spencer Road, Waterside on Monday afternoon. DER3015MC010

The road was closed to traffic from lunchtime until after teatime, and at one stage three fire crews, ambulance staff and utility personnel, as well as police were involved in the operation.

Staff in offices and businesses adjacent to the leak were also evacuated and a cordon prevented pedestrians from passing.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Annette Deeney, the franchise owner at the Sandwich Company said the electricity going out was the first real indication that there was a problem.

“It was a big indication that something was really wrong. The girls has smelled gas and it was reported to NIE and both Firmus and NIE arrived and the air was tested,” she said.

Two girls were taken to hospital and tested for carbon monoxide and a small amount was found in their systems

Annette Deeney, Francise owner, Sandwich Co

“NIE took readings and confirmed there was carbon monoxide and we were put out of the shop. We lost just over half a day, but that does not matter as long as everyone is safe. It could have been a whole lot different. As it was, the tenant upstairs and two girls were taken to hospital and tested and a small amount of carbon monoxide was found in their systems, so they were made to breathe oxygen.

“You hear horror stories where gas is involved and I am so thankful no one was badly effected. We are back up and running and I just want to thank everyone who helped us on Monday,” said Annette, who appealed to people to take care entering and leaving the premises until the footpath was properly reinstated.

The cable which caused the alert lies underground between the Sandwich Co and an orthodontic practice.

It was just before 4pm on Monday that a Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue spokesman confirmed that it was an electrical fire involving an underground cable, which was releasing carbon monoxide gas.

The alert caused widespread traffic disruption, particularly at rush hour, with congestion experienced along Clooney Terrace, Duke Street and Victoria Road as commuters tried to navigate their way home using alternative roads.

Work continues on repairs to the underground cable and a large section of the footpath, is still cordoned off with temporary access to businesses affected.