‘Strange’ incident leads to evacuation

Ongoing work at the site of an underground cable that caught fire on Bennett Street. (2703PG40)
Ongoing work at the site of an underground cable that caught fire on Bennett Street. (2703PG40)

A “full investigation,” into an underground cable fire on Upper Bennett Street on Saturday night, is to be conducted by Power NI, the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

In what was described as a ‘major incident’ a number of homes and businesses were evacuated after passers-by reported that the street appeared to be “bubbling” and reported the smell of gas in the area.

The incident, which was caused by a burning underground cable, commenced at 00.20 on Sunday and was not resolved until 7.30am on Sunday. Around 25 residents were involved and full electricity service was resumed by Sunday afternoon. The community and leisure centre at Brooke Park was opened to those evacuated as Fire Service personel imposed an exclusion zone of 50m. High levels of Carbon Monoxide gases were detected.

Fire Service District Commander for Derry, Barry McDowell said the carbon monoxide reached “potentially fatal levels” inside a number of homes.

“It was a strange incident, one I have not encountered in 22 years of service. This type of incident shows the benefits of fitting both CO monitors and smoke detectors as well as maintaining and testing them.” A spokesperson for Northern Ireland Electricity said: “We will carry out a full investigation into this incident together with Fire Service and the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland.”