20 people rescued as cloud of white smoke seen coming from Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds
17:09 15 October 2015
Eye witnesses reported seeing a cloud of white smoke heading towards their Bury St Edmunds estate following a “significant” gas leak that led to 20 people being trapped inside a brewery building.
Emergency services went sent to the Greene King site, off Cullum Road, following reports of a carbon dioxide (CO2) gas leak at about 8.30am today.
Residents of nearby Tannery Drive and Rockingham Road, as well as some in Sextons Meadows, were evacuated from their homes due to the risk posed by breathing in the gas, which can lead to respiratory problems.
Suffolk fire service rescued 20 people from an upper area of the brewery building who were cut off by the leak. The breathing apparatus team led them to safety by cutting a hole in a fence at the compound.
Pat Dacey, west Suffolk group commander for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said a military helicopter had been requested to monitor the gas cloud, but fortunately the incident was under control very quickly, by 10am.
Tannery Drive resident Margaret Coopersmith described spotting smoke at about 7.45am and then a police officer knocking on her door saying they were evacuating because there was “an emergency”.
Mrs Coopersmith, who decided to stay indoors with her husband Michael, described the cloud as like “white smoke” and similar to “dry ice”.
Mr Dacey said: “These houses on the closest street had to evacuate quickly as the cloud was close enough to those houses for us to be worried.”*
The ambulance service sent an ambulance, two ambulance officers and their hazardous area response team to the brewery. Paramedic Jonathon Needle, who attended the scene, said: “Thankfully, no one suffered any injuries in the incident and they were all discharged safely from the scene.”
Mr Dacey said the “significant” CO2 leak was from a 20-tonne container.
A Greene King spokesman said the “minor” leak from the tank had involved a damaged pipe. “Our engineers are now carrying out repair work on the affected pipe and we are investigating how this leak could have happened.” He added: “We would like to thank the police and fire services for their assistance and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”