Couple’s terror after sewage pump explosion in Deeping St James

Workmen at Manor Way, Deeping St James, following a sewage pumping plant fire
Workmen at Manor Way, Deeping St James, following a sewage pumping plant fire

A COUPLE have spoken of their fear after a sewage pumping station outside their home exploded.

Accountants Trevor and Jenny Cheesman were enjoying a quiet night at home in Manor Way, Deeping St James when a loud bang shook the street at about 7pm on Monday.

They looked out of their window and saw the shed-like sewage pump switch box in front of their garden in flames.

Gas from a ruptured main in the box had been ignited by a spark from one of the pump’s electric switches, sending the door of the box flying down the road.

Mrs Cheesman said: “There was one hell of a bang. My first thought was my God, what the hell is that?

“When I looked outside the front of the box was 20 feet down the road and there were fireworks coming from the box. I couldn’t believe it, it was scary.”

Fire crews were on the scene within 10 minutes to deal with the blaze, which had spread to a fence belonging to the neighbouring Deeping St James Primary School.

But the initial explosion had ripped a hole in the pavement and mains gas was still burning.

Mr Cheesman added: “They couldn’t get it under control, they had to wait for the electricity to be switched off.

“Then we could smell gas. A crack in the path was alight but they couldn’t put it out in case gas built up somewhere else. They had to let it burn like a pilot light.”

Seven homes in the street were evacuated by police as a safety precaution. The Cheesmans spent the night with a friend in Baston. Mrs Cheesman was worried about what she might find in the morning.

She said: “I didn’t sleep well because it was still burning when I left. I didn’t know whether we would come back to a house or not.

“If there had been another explosion who knows what we would have been left with.”

Engineers from Anglian Water, Western Power Distribution and British Gas worked with the fire service through the night to isolate the leak and put out the fire.

Flames were extinguished by about 3.30am and families were allowed back into their homes by 6am.

Mrs Cheesman said: “It’s lucky it didn’t happen during the day or that nobody was walking across to the shops.”

Anglian Water engineers have been working to find the fault with the pumping station since the explosion but power was restored to the street on Tuesday.