RESIDENTS were evacuated from their homes in a massive emergency operation after a man was found dead beside a quantity of noxious chemicals at a house in Sheffield.
Around 25 firefighters, some in boiler suits and gas masks, plus specialist police officers and paramedics, were dispatched to the house in Holland Place, Highfield, as neighbours were rushed from their homes amid contamination fears.
Police confirmed the body of a young man, thought to be in his 20s, had been found by his housemates.
London Road was cordoned off from its junction with Abbeydale Road to Witney Street, and bus routes were diverted as experts were drafted in to assess the “potentially hazardous” substance.
One woman, watching the drama unfold with her children, told The Star: “They came and asked me to move my kids. They said it was something unpleasant and not for kids to see.”
Neighbour Katelyn McKeown said: “All the police would tell us was there’d been a chemical spill, but everyone was saying someone had died.”
Superintendent Martin Hemingway, who led the operation, said: “Some residents returned home to find the body of a young man inside the property.
“From the circumstances they could see they became concerned that there were hazardous materials in there “When they contacted the police we called out the emergency services to ensure the scene and the street were safe.”
Around 25 homes on Holland Place were evacuated and neighbouring streets taped off as residents watched firefighters in acid-yellow protection suits and breathing masks enter the terraced house next to Highfield Trinity Church.
Some 18 fire, police and ambulance vehicles spent four hours at the scene.
Firefighters from Central, Low Edges and Stocksbridge stations, plus Health Protection Agency workers, set up a decontamination tent at the junction of London Road and Holland Place. A second white tent was erected for paramedics to suit up.
Four fire engines and two support vehicles, four ambulances, seven police cars, a crime scene investigation van and a specialist unit were all at the scene. A Sheffield Council liaison officer was also in attendance.
They were watched by dozens of residents from Holland Road and from a small park at Batt Street.
Karen Guest, whose home on Holland Place was evacuated, said firefighters knocked on her door and asked her to vacate the property.
“They didn’t tell us how long we were going to be out, but they said it was potentially life-threatening,” she said. “My kids were playing outside at the time. There was a real stink.”
After four hours of activity by at least 40 emergency service officers, the Health Protection Agency declared the scene safe shortly before 6pm yesterday.
Supt Hemingway said: “The agencies involved confirmed there was no risk to residents or anyone who had been in the London Road or Holland Place area.
“We are mounting a full investigation of the circumstances.”
Neighbours said the house was occupied by a group of young working men.
Judie Guest, who lives two doors down, said: “They are really nice lads who live there. We don’t see them very much, but they are very polite and friendly.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed: “Police were called to an address on Holland Place just before 2pm following reports of a man found in a serious condition.
“There do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.”
A Fire Service spokesman added: “Four crews of firefighters along with specialist support units attended the scene after reports of a chemical incident.
“They had to evacuate one side of the street and firefighters entered the building wearing specialist suits.”