DOZENS of homes had to be evacuated and a main road was cordoned off as firefighters dealt with a potentially hazardous chemical spill in Huncoat last Friday (23 October).
At least six appliances from Accrington, Burnley and Padiham tackled the Xylene spillage off Burnley Road, with ambulance crews in attendance as a precaution.
The road was closed for more than three hours with traffic heading away from Accrington diverted down Bolton Avenue. Residents from around 45 homes on either sides of the road and on nearby estates were moved to Hyndburn Sports Centre.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said six small drums had leaked from the lorry near to the Texaco garage.
Xylene is a highly flammable liquid used in pesticides and can cause headaches, lack of muscle coordination, skin irritation and breathing difficulties.
Firefighters set up a 200-metre exclusion zone from 2.30pm and police closed the road about a quarter of mile further down to divert traffic.
Two firefighters wore chemical protection suits to assess the spillage and used chemical absorbent pads and clay mats to clean up the leak and seal the leaking drums.
The whole operation was watched by a gathering group of Burnley Road residents while one of the evacuees who stayed behind to watch events unfold was 73-year-old James Pilling, of Wedgwood Road.
He said: "This is interfering with my decorating the lounge, but there's nothing we can do about it. I heard all the sirens and my wife was cleaning all the upstairs windows when she noticed the wagon parked. At that stage there were only a couple of police vehicles around and gradually it's mounted up. The policemen just told us it was a chemical spill."
Red Cross volunteers were called by the council at 4pm and arrived at the rest centre within the hour, helping with registration and providing information and support to people.
According to Stephen Hagerich, British Red Cross senior services manager said: "Our volunteers were very quick to respond to this situation."
The incident was cleared up and Burnley Road re-opened at around 6pm.