UPDATE: Gas leak made safe amid reports of ‘squatters’ at Ilford baths

A gas leak inside a disused swimming pool has been made safe after more than three hours.

National Grid dug up part of the pavement outside Ilford Baths, High Road, Ilford, to shut down the supply of gas to the building.

A main pipe had been bent and fractured, causing gas to escape.

It has also emerged two people were already inside the building when firefighters arrived at the scene at just before 11am today.

Watch manager Nigel McCormick described seeing two people walk out of the baths, which closed in 2008, soon after crews entered the building.

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He said it looked like they were clutching bedding, describing them as possibly “squatters or vagrants”.

He added: “We had to make sure that the levels of gas were safe – below explosive or flammable limits.

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“Most of it is precautionary but we had to have a cordon to create a safe zone.”

Some offices were emptied, while employees in the Recorder office were asked to stay away from the side of the building facing High Road.

RGB electrical store was asked to pull its shutters down to help absorb the impact of any potential explosion.

Mr McCormick, who said there was “a lot of gas pouring out”, added the building was ventilated.

The Recorder has been unable to contact police at this stage to confirm if they are investigating both the damage to the pipe, and reports of people sleeping overnight in the building.

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