Gas leak forces staff to flee Co-op office

Firefighters attend Rutland Square in full 'hazmat' attire. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Firefighters attend Rutland Square in full 'hazmat' attire. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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DOZENS of staff were evacuated from city centre offices after “an unknown noise” was detected coming from a supermarket’s storage fridges.

The alarm was raised by workers within the Co-operative building on Shandwick Place when a worker heard a hissing sound.

Firefighters then raced to the scene in full “hazmats” (hazardous materials) outfits due to the possibility of a “chemical incident”.

Shop staff and office workers were evacuated to the back of the building in Rutland Square whilst senior officers inspected the building and the fridges inside the store’s basement.

One worker evacuated ­during yesterday afternoon’s incident said: “I was sitting at my desk when I heard all the sirens roaring into the street, when I looked out the window I got quite a shock because there was so many of them.

“A firefighter then came into the office and told us there was a problem with one of the fridges in the basement of the nearby Co-op and that there was no need to panic.

“Most of my workmates and myself decided to get out of the ­building just in case ­anyway, as it looked pretty serious with firefighters in all the gear.”

Police officers cordoned off access to Rutland Square so emergency appliances could attend and around 40 members of staff looked on as the drama unfolded. Seven fire appliances from a number of city stations and a specialist detection and monitoring vehicle were in attendance as well as several ambulances.

A spokesman for the ­Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at the scene said no casualties had been reported during the ­incident.

He said: “We believe the leak to have come from one of the fridges in the building and it is the gas used to make it cold.

“The fridge is located within the building’s plant room – we evacuated the building and nearby offices as a ­precaution as the basement room lies beneath neighbouring ­buildings.

“Firefighters took gas ­readings at the scene and they came back quite low so there is no immediate danger to the public.”

Shortly before 6pm, two hours after the incident had begun, an engineer arrived and, ­following a detailed ­inspection of the plant room fridges, he isolated the leak, allowing shop staff and office workers to return to their premises.

Rutland Square reopened to traffic shortly after 6.30pm.