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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Sutton Valence homes left without electricity after gas main fire near Maidstone

Multiple homes have been left without electricity after a gas main fire last night.

Around 10 properties at The Oaks private estate in Sutton Valence have been affected after a blaze in Maidstone Road in Sutton Valence.

Southern Gas Networks and the fire service were called to Sutton Valence on Thursday

Residents were told it can’t be fixed until the gas situation is “sorted and safe”.

Matthew Deer said: “Naturally when we heard the fire engine we all went out to look. At that stage last night, the flames were quite high, about 10ft.

“It’s funny because there’s no apparent cause for the blaze and this is the second time something like this has happened.”

A neighbour expanded: “The last fire was on April 5. It was about 20 metres down the road from this one and damaged one of our neighbour’s fence.

The gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Sutton Valence, near Maidstone. Picture: UKNIP
The gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Sutton Valence, near Maidstone. Picture: UKNIP

“It’s quite disturbing there should be two fires so close together. I want this sorted out.”

Eva Houson of The Oaks said: “Like the others, we’ve been without power since about 2am.

“It’s much quieter with the road closed, but my husband had to go to work this morning and he said it took him three quarters of an hour to get around the diversion.

“Obviously tonight, in the rush hour, it’s going to be chaos, because the alternative roads are so narrow.”

The blaze occurred at a point where SGN engineers had been creating a new spur of the gas main in the road to service a new housing development behind the Warmlake retail estate, which is currently empty.

The work had been completed on Wednesday, and the hole had been left for a road crew to come along and infill.

No-one was working at the junction when the blaze occurred.

An SGN engineer said: “It’s a mystery how it happened. There will have to be an investigation.”

The gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Sutton Valence, near Maidstone. Picture: UKNIP
The gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Sutton Valence, near Maidstone. Picture: UKNIP

The flames were extinguished at about 10.15am, but SGN said they would have to wait until the junction had cooled down before they could start work on the damage.

Meanwhile the gas supply has been turned off at a separate point just a few yards down the road.

SGN at the scene said they did not believe any homes had lost their gas supply as a result.

Southern Gas Networks were called at around 11pm after a member of the public reported the fire.

The road was closed between Warmlake Crossroads and Plough Wents Road, Langley, for safety reasons and work has carried on this morning.

It’s expected the works will continue into the weekend and could last until Monday.

‘It was a nightmare getting in this morning…’

One engine and four firefighters were pictured at the scene of the incident this morning and SGN is carrying out the repair work.

Waseem Hanif, a spokesperson for SGN, said: “We were called at around 11pm last night to support the emergency services with a reported damaged gas main in Maidstone Road, Sutton Valence, in our capacity as the gas emergency service in the area.

“Maidstone Road is closed between Warmlake Crossroads and Langley for everyone’s safety as we work to make safe and isolate the gas escape.

“The cause of the damage to our network is still under investigation.

“It’s still too early to say how long it will take before we can reopen the road, however the road is likely to remain closed throughout today and into the weekend.

Southern Gas Network workers are at the scene of a gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Maidstone
Southern Gas Network workers are at the scene of a gas main fire in Maidstone Road, Maidstone

“We would like to thank Sutton Valence residents and motorists for your patience and support and are working to reopen the road as soon as we can.”

A staff member from Sutton Valence care home, which is next to the scene, said: “It was a nightmare getting in this morning. Especially for a care home when people are an hour late because of the traffic and others are trying to finish a 12 hour shift.

“It’s outside our front gate, so people have had to take a detour round the country to get into us.”

The Headcorn Aeredrome is hosting events today and over the weekend, and despite concerns visitors may be affected, staff have said there’s been no problems this morning.

One man said: “We’ve had people coming in this morning and it’s been completely fine. We don’t think there will be any problems.”

Highways England say works could carry on until the end of the weekend. Picture: UKNIP
Highways England say works could carry on until the end of the weekend. Picture: UKNIP
A member of the public called 999 after spotting the fire in Sutton Valence. Picture: UKNIP
A member of the public called 999 after spotting the fire in Sutton Valence. Picture: UKNIP

Kent Highways says there is a diversion in place via Plough Wents Road, Heath Road, Linton cross roads, Linton Hill, Staplehurst Road, Maidstone Road, Station Road, High Street, Cranbrook Road, Camden Hill Common Road, Sissinghurst Road, Headcorn Road, Maidstone Road.

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