THE smell of gas “filled” a tyre workshop after a digger crashed into a high pressure gas main causing a leak.

The strong smell sparked concern for residents in Wash Road and Dutton Road in Laindon after a “three or five tonne digger” hit the gas main at 2.15pm today.

Gas emergency tape and a police cordon could be spotted at the scene as engineers worked to stop the leak.

It’s believed one police car and two fire engines attended the scene before it was left in the hands of Cadent gas engineers.

Nicky Thorpe, 24, who works at DGT Wheels & Tyres in Basildon said the shop was filled with gas after the leak.

He said: “The noise it made it literally sounded like an airline.

“It was gushing out gas and it was quite powerful.

“It filled up the workshop with gas.

“There was a police car and two fire engines and around five or six Cadent vans.

“It was a really strong smell. I had to walk away where it was so strong.”

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Ian Macaulay, 32, from Laindon, first reported the leak after hearing the digger hit the gas main.

Ian said: “There was a digger in the field. As we came passed the road we heard a roar where it’s a high pressure main.

“Even when we parked up four or five hundred yards away on the other side of the field we could still hear it roaring.

“It must have been around a three or five tonne digger that went into it.

“The people that were using it tried to get the machine away by using a four by four pick up truck.

“There was a risk of ignition. If it ignited, there could have been an explosion.

“I’m not sure if they were aware at what they had actually done.

“People in homes nearby may well have had to be evacuated.

“There were fire engines and police on site and I called Cadent.”

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called to a gas leak in Dunton Road, Laindon at 2:15pm.

“Crews worked to make the scene safe by 3pm and left the scene in the care of the Police.”

Essex Police attended the leak to assist with traffic management at the request of the fire service.

Cadent gas engineers are expected to stay at the scene into the evening.