1970 Families flee gas plant blasts

From the Daily Express, 24th September, 1970

EXPLOSIONS roared through a gas bottling plant last night – and the bangs could be heard over half of London.

From Middlesex to Farnborough, Kent, people were roused by the blasts. The glow from the flames could be seen in Putney.

THE BLASTS at the plant in Church Road, Mitcham, hurled pieces of molten cylinders high in the air.

No one was injured but 100 firemen who raced to the scene from all over South London faced the hazard of a broken gas supply main.

HOMES

They quickly brought a fierce fire in the two-storey factory itself under control, however. Fifty families were evacuated from houses most closely affected. A police spokesman said more might have to be moved from a nearby council estate.

THE SOUND of the explosions were heard as far away as Epsom, Wandsworth, and Bromley.

Streets around the area were littered with chunks of gas canisters, several of which were hurled over 300 yds, and lay hissing in the streets while firemen doused them with foam.

Mr Brian Courtney, an ambulanceman in Caterham 10 miles away, said : “The sky was bright red lighting up everything for miles.”

AT 1 A.M. gas cylinders were still exploding. An adjoining factory was badly damaged and neighbouring shopfronts were blown in.

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