Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

No promise on gas supply repairs

Video footage of flames following the explosion

Engineers are working through the night to restore gas to 18,000 Lancashire homes, but there is no guarantee work will be completed by Christmas Day.

The houses were left without supplies after a gas main ruptured on Monday, setting light to an overhead power cable at Holme Lane in Rawtenstall.

Temporary repairs have been made to the power line, but the National Grid is yet to reconnect gas customers.

National Grid said about 300 engineers would be working "around the clock".

Its director of operations Jon Butterworth said "We apologise for the inconvenience this incident has caused to local people and thank them for their patience and cooperation".

I've heard on the grapevine just now it could well be weeks now
Resident Laura Morris

The blast on Monday morning left 18,000 homes without gas and 17,000 without electricity in the Bacup, Waterfoot, Rawtenstall, Newchurch and Crawshawbooth areas.

Work to repair the damaged gas pipe was completed on Tuesday morning, but engineers now need to re-pressurise and test the system.

A National Grid spokesperson said: "When we have confirmed that it is safe we can begin restoring gas supplies to homes and businesses.

"Every effort is being made to do this as soon as possible, however it is too early to say at this stage when this operation can begin."

Resident Laura Morris, who was at home when the explosion happened, said it could be a chilly festive season for people in the area.

Rota basis

"Luckily we do have a little electric heater to keep the living room warm but I've no gas central heating, no hot water, no cooker.

"We do go to my mum and dad's on Christmas Day but they're without gas as well so we're just going to have to take it day by day and see how we get on.

"I've heard on the grapevine just now it could well be weeks now."

Engineers will have to call on every individual house to restore the supply and in the meantime anyone without gas should check all appliances are turned off, as well as their meter.

If repairs do not hold United Utilities said it would rotate power supplies for the next three to four days until a new emergency power line was constructed.

"This would mean that 4,000 properties in the area would be re-energised for a period of around two hours on a rota basis," a company spokesman said.

Traffic on the nearby A56 Edenfield bypass was also affected and the road remains partly closed.

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Christmas gas warning after blast
22 Dec 08 |  Lancashire

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