HUNDREDS of residents were forced to leave their homes in Sheffield over fears a gas cylinder would explode when a garage went up in flames.
Firefighters were called to Cotswold Road, Hillsborough, at 11.20pm on Thursday when a double domestic garage was found alight.
Firefighters were forced to set up a 200m cordon around the garage after discovering an acetylene gas cylinder inside.
Acetylene is a gas used for welding and can explode if it gets too hot.
Around 200 homes were evacuated on surrounding roads, with most residents finding accommodation with friends or family.
About 50 had to be offered emergency shelter, food and drink at Sheffield Town Hall with pillows and sleeping bags.
Firefighters spent around seven-and-a-half hours tackling the garage fire and cooling the cylinder until it was safe.Residents returned home about 7am yesterday.
Station manager Paul Beeston said: “We found a double domestic garage well alight and we were informed there were some cylinders inside and that one of them was acetylene, which is a very unstable gas when it gets hot.
“There are nationally-agreed procedures in place for incidents such as this, including establishing a 200 metre cordon.
“The police organised the evacuation at very short notice. It involved them knocking on around 200 doors alerting people to what was happening and getting them away from the scene while we concentrated on the fire.
“There were nine cylinders in the garage. We had to fight the fire from a safe distance because of the risk of an explosion.”
Paul Thompson, who was evacuated from his home at 12.55am, said residents were initially asked to report to Hammerton Road police station.
“When we got there some people were still in their night clothes making themselves cups of tea while arrangements were made for them to find somewhere to sleep for the night,” he said.
“We went to a local hotel and I think others may have done as well, as the first hotel I tried had just let its last room go.
“I thought there was a bit of overkill in terms of the number of homes evacuated but there was just a sense of calm resignation at the police station that we had to deal with it.”
The cause of the fire is recorded as accidental.