People return home after gas facility fire in Jersey

Hundreds of Jersey people have returned home after spending the night away because of a fire at a gas facility.

Two people were injured in the blaze at Gas Place, St Helier, on Wednesday.

The fire started in a back-up storage tank during maintenance work. Police said the flames were out on Thursday morning.

Most residents and workers were able to return home early on Thursday with all roads except Tunnel Street open later in the day.

Jersey Police said they expected all roads to be clear to traffic apart from Tunnel Street which will open to homeowners and pedestrians.

They said they could not let traffic into Tunnel Street as there were still too many fire engines in the road.

Seven schools and five nurseries were closed on Thursday but Jersey Education said all would be open on Friday.

Fire crews were still working in the area as officers tried to work out how the fire started.

Two Jersey Gas staff were injured when the fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon. A plant fitter suffered minor facial burns and another man was treated for shock.

The blaze was extinguished by 05:10 BST on Thursday and police said most people living and working near Gas Place could now return.

People had to leave homes, schools and businesses when the tank caught fire.

Homes in Tunnel Street, St Saviour's Road, Simon Place and Ann Street were evacuated, with residents spending the night with family, friends or in public buildings.

Those living within a wider 400m exclusion zone were told to remain in their homes with windows and doors closed.

The States opened a Facebook page to match those in need with somewhere to stay with people offering spare rooms.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said no tourists visiting the island would be left out of pocket because of the evacuation.

He said the economic development minister, Senator Alan Maclean said the treasury would pay the costs of anyone who needed to spend extra time in a hotel as a result of the fire.

Some of the affected schools were due to hold induction days for students on Thursday.

Education bosses said they hoped school induction days planned for Thursday could take place on Friday instead.

The JSPCA said 265 animals in its care at a shelter inside the evacuation zone were not moved.

The animals were bedded down because there was nowhere else for them to go, it said.

'Diminished supply'

A Jersey Gas spokesman said: "Maintenance was being carried out at the time the fire started.

"Without the gas holder, the island's gas supply is diminished to some degree.

"The holder's primary function is as back up and it is there to give us continuity of supply in the light of a technical failure at La Collette."

He said there would be a 24-hour rota system to supervise the La Collette site to maintain the supply.

In the longer term the firm would look to install additional equipment at La Collette to replace the gas holder.

Head of Jersey Gas Tony Nicholls said it was unlikely the gas holder would be used again.

The company said fire officers would remain in charge of the scene until they were satisfied the incident had ended and the area was safe.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft praised people who had helped out those displaced by the fire.

"It was a profound demonstration of what makes Jersey special and of the community spirit that is alive and well in St Helier," he said.

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