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Horley chemical leak sparks evacuation

16 October 2009

Red Cross volunteer offers supportLayton Thompson BRCAround 30 residents were evacuated from their homes in Lumley Road, Horley, and taken to an emergency rest centre after dangerous chemicals were detected at a block of flats on Monday.

The fire services called out the Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) to assist the evacuated residents. Seven volunteers from Surrey and Sussex arrived at the scene in two specially-equipped FESS vehicles to find Lumley Road cordoned off. The fire and rescue services, police and ambulance crews were at the scene.

Providing shelter and support

Several people from one block of flats were standing in the street where they had been for about two hours in the cold. The Red Cross team knew they had to immediately get them warm. Children and elderly residents were immediately put into the FESS vehicles but more space was needed for those remaining.

The team found help at near-by Horley Infants School. Head teacher Hilary Salter kindly agreed to host the residents as a temporary measure while an official rest centre was organised, even providing hot drinks and chocolate.

"Brilliant" Red Cross

Alice Fuller, 21, who was evacuated along with her fiancé, teenaged brother, and infant son, praised the work of the Red Cross and Horley Infant School in an interview with "This Is Surrey Today".

She said: "We were out there for ages, but the Red Cross were brilliant and kept the kids warm and entertained. It was so nice of the school to let us go there– they let the kids play with the toys."

John Drudge, FESS co-ordinator, said: “Many of the people who had been evacuated from their flats were distressed about the situation. We provided a lot of emotional support to the group as well as the more practical side of our service. The team also provided refreshments for the fire fighters from both Surrey and Sussex and were on site for about seven hours in total.

“All our volunteers were excellent. They were very professional in coping with the initial rush and the difficulties of the call-out. They worked really hard and deserve special thanks for that.”

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