Jersey community spirit praised after gas fire

"Community spirit is alive and well in St Helier," Constable Simon Crowcroft said after hundreds of people had to be evacuated from homes, schools and businesses due to a fire at gas works in the Jersey town.

The fire in Gas Place started on Wednesday lunchtime at a back up gas holder and was finally extinguished at 05:10 BST.

Danny Goncalves, 24, who lives on Woodville Avenue, was one of those affected.

"I didn't hear anything until there were people outside speaking and just gazed out of the window and just saw some flames coming from the top of the tanker," he said.

Mr Goncalves said he was told to leave and then go to the Town Hall where alternative accommodation would be found for him.

Hundreds of people in Jersey spent the night staying with family, friends or in hotels.

Akos Sztvida, from Hungary, who is on holiday on the island with his wife and two daughters, said they had been staying at the Franklin Guesthouse on St Saviour's Road, but had been moved to another hotel outside the exclusion zone.

Image caption Islanders were sent to the Town Hall for food and to find alternative accommodation

"My daughters were a bit frightened about it, but everything was very well organised and the policemen were very kind and very informative," he said.

"Extraordinary situations are very well handled by local people so it is really a very good impression of the island and its people."

Pastor Tim Bond, from Jersey Freedom Church, was among a team of 25 volunteers from the church who cooked a meal for people gathered at the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

He said: "I got a call from one of our members of staff, she said she was walking down thinking there must be some sort of fete on in the Town Park.

"She saw lots of people gathered but as she walked past she saw the flames licking up the side of the cylinder and so we all went to see what was happening and by that point the flames had got very very high.

"The emergency services had it all under control and the police did an outstanding job, I cannot imagine what it is like logistically to vacate that kind of area and seal off the roads."

'Makes Jersey special'

The St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft also praised islanders who had helped those displaced by the fire.

Image caption Constable Crowcroft said it was a profound demonstration of what makes Jersey special

"It was a profound demonstration of what makes Jersey special," he said.

"To all staff who stayed on after work, late into the evening in many cases, and to all those volunteers, especially St John's Ambulance and Freedom Church, members of the municipality and the States who participated, my heartfelt thanks.

"Also the police officers whose role was calming and professional throughout the day, and to the fire service."

Many islanders were allowed to return to their homes and offices at about 09:00 BST.

A Jersey Police spokesman said: "We would like to thank the public for their co-operation during this hugely inconvenient time.

"This was team Jersey at its very best."

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