Mammoth sinkhole sees six homes evacuated in St Albans

Photo courtesy of Herts Fire Control

Photo courtesy of Herts Fire Control - Credit: Archant

An emergency meeting has been held this morning to discuss what measures must be taken following the appearance of a dangerous 10-metre-wide sinkhole next to homes in St Albans.

The Chief Inspector of St Albans Police, Ken Townsend, told the Herts Advertiser that emergency services, along with staff from the district council were meeting to discuss the cavernous hole, which opened up at 1am this morning (Thursday), in Fontmell Close, off Seymour Road.

A spokesman for Herts Police said: “Six houses in St Albans have currently been evacuated following the emergence of a sink hole.

“[It] was reported to police at around 1.20am.

“The hole is currently around eight by 10 metres in size and thought to be several metres deep, and incorporates the driveway of one of the properties.

“Residents have been evacuated as a precaution and all utility services (such as gas and water) are being checked and turned off.

“A reception centre has been set up for the residents who have been evacuated from their homes at Batchwood Hall. There is currently no access for vehicles to the close.”

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A multitude of police and service vehicles including Affinity Water and the National Grid, along the county council highway contractors, Ringway, are at the scene, and concerned neighbours have been gathering to ask about the sinkhole.

When this paper visited the street, there was police tape and barriers in place, and two cars could be seen perilously close to the gaping hole.

A man whose blind, elderly father lives in the close said that when he arrived there at about 6am, “it was like a scene from Holby City”.

The Red Cross had been attending to local residents, with cups of tea and water.

Scores of homes are without water, electricity and gas.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said that he was annoyed that although a small hole had appeared near a manhole – previously above the sinkhole – a week ago, “Herts county council hadn’t done anything about it.

“I’m amazed they did nothing about it.”

He said that water had been seen leaking onto the road.

Max Jeans, of Seymour Road, who recently moved to the area, said: “I didn’t see or hear anything, but it’s a bit scary. I’m really surprised – you don’t realise how big sinkholes can get.”

More updates to follow.