RESIDENTS have recalled the moment they were told to evacuate their homes amid fears of a gas explosion.

A resident in Dane Avenue called 999 at 9.24pm on Sunday after seeing an explosion outside his front window.

When firefighters arrived at the scene they discovered an underground explosion had forced the paving slabs to burst open and, fearing it was the result of a gas leak, they knocked on neighbouring doors to order an evacuation.

One of the first to be told to leave was Heather, who lives by the site of the explosion with her husband John.

"We were in the middle of watching The Cry on TV and all the electricity went off," Heather said.

"We didn't think too much of it; we looked outside and saw other houses had no power, but then the fire engines arrived and three firemen came up to the door and said 'We think you better leave the house'."

Engineers from gas network operator Cadent were called to the scene but it transpired the explosion had been caused by an electricity fault.

"We went to stop with family, fortunately we had somewhere to go," Heather added.

Fire station manger Paul Milburn said crews would have provided shelter in reception centres in Barrow which are on standby in case of the need to evacuate homes in an emergency.

"Anyone who wasn't able to go to family or friends would have been provided shelter," he said.

Heather and John's home in Rating Lane was one of more than 1,000 left without power following the explosion, Electricity North West said.

A spokeswoman said: "Our engineers quickly arrived on site to ensure the area was safe. Engineers restored power to 375 customers within three minutes and they worked through the night to restore the remaining 716 customers at 12.31am.

“The fault, which occurred on a piece of equipment underneath the pavement, external damage onsite, but we would like to assure customers that incidents of this nature are extremely rare and we regularly maintain our underground network to ensure customers receive a reliable supply of electricity."