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Gas leak repaired as 700 Crawley residents evacuated after major incident declared

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A gas leak that caused the immediate evacuation of 700 Crawley residents in flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley has finally been repaired sources have revealed to CN24.

The emergency services responded to a major incident at a large block of flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley at around 12.21am this morning (Wed 6th Jan).

The nature of the leak was so severe that it was declared a ‘major incident’.

A multi-agency response was implemented and Sussex Police worked collaboratively with partners including West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, West Sussex County Council, Crawley Borough Council and Southern Gas to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible.

Approximately 700 residents were evacuated and placed in temporary accommodation including hotels.

A source within the emergency services said:

“I have never seen the evacuation of that number of people done so quickly!”

While sources say the gas leak has now been repaired, they added that it will be some time before residents can return due to the need to allow the gas to dissipate.

This has meant that hundreds of residents are now split up across the town in various hotels and shelters awaiting a return to their homes which could take many hours to resolve.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland said:

“This is an ongoing incident which has caused huge disruption to hundreds of people on a cold January morning, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to work with our partners to minimise the ongoing disruption.

“We are working hard to ensure this is dealt with as soon as possible to enable everyone to return home, however this may take several hours yet. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to stay away from the area to allow the responding agencies to focus on resolving the incident to allow residents to return home.

“The exact cause of the gas leak is yet to be determined but not believed to be criminal, and we will provide more information as soon as we are able to.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“The council declared a local authority major incident, supported by all partners, in the early hours of this morning.

“Staff worked together to manage the safe evacuation of residents and to transport them into the temporary accommodation, which was arranged around the town.

“This is an unsettling time for Milton Mount residents and their families. They will be able to return to their homes as soon as it safe for them to do so.”

Milton Mount residents should call 01293 438758 with any questions. Any non-residents with any concerns should call our Contact Centre on 01293 438000

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Crawley College to reopen following incident

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Crawley College will be beginning a phased reopening to students from tomorrow, Thursday 29 April.

The phased reopening will take place between tomorrow and Tuesday 4 May with full details by courses provided on the college website www.crawley.ac.uk . Students should check details before returning to campus.

The campus has remained closed for the past two days following police investigations into the incident that took place at the college on Monday (26 April).

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to the college.

“We’d like to reassure everyone, the college is safe and they will be well supported in their return to the campus.

“Sussex Police have confirmed that this is being treated as an isolated incident which is not terror related and nobody else is being sought in connection with the incident.  The individual concerned is in police custody and has been charged.”

“We are now focussed on ensuring we can bring students and staff safely back on site. We’re proud of the service we provide to our students to give them opportunities in education and training.

“I can reassure everyone that this was a one-off incident and we have strategies in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as giving the students the support they need to come back and join us to complete their studies successfully.”

Vicki also echoed her earlier comments, paying tribute to the staff who supported students who were on site during the events of Monday afternoon.

She added:

“I continue to remain full of admiration of our team. They pulled together on Monday and implemented all of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe.

“They’ve continued to work together to support each other and their students over the past couple of days – and they will continue to do so when students return to campus.

“We are also particularly proud of the two members of staff who acted so bravely and swiftly to apprehend the individual before the police arrived. They acted selflessly to protect their students and the college community. They have asked for privacy during this time.

“It was a very intense time for everyone involved.

“The students who were kept inside the college and who were part of the emergency evacuation were supported throughout by our staff and counselling services have been available to them this week. These services will continue to be in place for them to access.

“We’ve continued to be in touch with our students through our support services to check that they are ok and we will resume face-to-face counselling as soon as we can.”

Work is taking place at the college campus to repair some damage which was sustained during the evacuation and subsequent investigations, with teams working hard to ensure the campus is ready for reopening.

The college would like to thank students, staff, the Police and Emergency Services and the wider community for their ongoing support and understanding.

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