An investigation has been launched after manhole covers were blasted “20 feet” in the air in a dramatic incident in Accrington this afternoon.
Shocked residents said there were rumours that a petrol-like substance may have been poured down a drain before the explosion.
Lancashire Police confirmed that they have had reports of an ‘unknown substance’ leaking into the sewer.
Two manhole covers were blasted in the air on Cambridge Street and Water Street at around 2.45pm on Friday.
United Utilities engineers are still on the scene assessing the damage and traffic is being diverted from the area. No injuries have been reported to the police or fire service.
Vicky Wallace, who lives on Cambridge Street, said: “I heard a really loud bang at about 2.50pm, the manhole cover just flew into the air, it must have gone about 15-20 feet high.
“There was a lot of smoke coming out of it, the people across the street called the fire brigade but by then they already had about ten calls.
“The emergency services came really quickly about five minutes later and cordoned it off.
“We’re just waiting for United Utilities to come.”
Mum-of-four Leeann Aldren who lives on Lodge Street, near to the explosion, said: “It happened just right across from my house.
“I’ve been told that someone has poured petrol down a manhole, which has caused the explosion. I have got four kids in school, it is pretty worrying and shocking.”
Richard Edney, from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We received a call around 2.44pm to reports of an explosion in an underground tunnel and two manhole covers had been ejected.
“We requested United Utilities and the police to come and manage traffic in the area.
“We believe there has been some sort of explosion in the sewer”.