A GAS PIPE which supplies a Bradford block of flats is to be made safer after a car burned out just feet from it.

Northern Gas Networks said they had been made aware by residents of Gerard House in Thorpe Edge of the danger of cars being set alight near the gas riser and would replace its plastic cover with steel to protect it better.

The action comes after a blue Ford Fiesta was engulfed in flames early on Wednesday at the base of the block managed by Incommunities.

Local resident Don Oliver said: "The cars are usually just inches from the pipe to the right. So this was a lucky escape.

"The fire brigade put out the fire fairly quick given I heard a couple of explosions. I thought it was fireworks being set off again so I went to look.

"This car and others around our high rise blocks are parked at the side of some lock-ups. They have been classed by the fire brigade as a fire risk.

"Unfortunately, this is just part of the fire risk. There are three pipes fixed to the concrete posts which supply our flats with gas.

"Last year these pipes, in my block, had rusted so much that gas was escaping. These pipes have been replaced and at the time I raised concerns with the housing association of the risk of a gas explosion. At the time of the leak I was always under the impression that the gas was piped in more safely.

"The blue car parked by the lock-ups in my particular block is how near to the pipe most of the cars are usually parked. Which is only inches away.

"Nothing, other than token gestures have been done to stop the parking and at times there is as many as five vehicles parked by the lock-ups."

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said its control room was called at 11.49pm on Tuesday to reports of the car fire on Fairhaven Green. Three fire engines – one each from Bradford, Stanningley and Fairweather Green Fire Stations – attended. The fire did not spread and crews left at 12.20am.

Mr Oliver welcomed the work by NGN but said he had written to Geraldine Howley, the chief executive of Incommunities, asking for barriers to be installed to stop vehicles parking there.

He said: "What has been mentioned about the planned work sounds good. Unfortunately, that on its own is not going to make us feel safer. Vehicles will still park by the lock-ups. The fire brigade have highlighted the lock-ups as a fire risk. The gas supply may end up being safer in case of a fire but if a burning car set the lock-ups alight, it would spread from one end to the other. The result could cause a weakening of the structure.

"The only way to prevent this parking is to place barriers. I previously got barriers placed to prevent parking on the pavements leading into the car parks. At the time it was said that barriers would also be erected by the lock-ups. That of course didn't happen."

An Incommunities spokesperson said: “Our priority is always the safety of our residents and a full fire risk assessment of the block was carried out in December 2019. This will be reviewed in light of this incident. The gas piping is owned by Northern Gas Network and we have made them aware of the matter. Our gas team is also visiting the site this afternoon.

“We are also actively looking at addressing a persistent parking issue in the area and we would urge vehicle owners to park responsibly, within designated parking areas and adhere to our ‘no parking’ signs in the area as well as clear road markings.”

Chris Nevison, the business operations lead at Northern Gas Networks, said: “NGN has been made aware of the concerns of tenants at Gerard House regarding abandoned cars being set alight near gas risers, which carry the gas supply into the property.

"My colleagues have been working closely with the Gas Compliance Manager at Incommunities, and this afternoon NGN met with them on site to carry out a thorough survey of the gas pipework around the building.

“All the pipework was in good condition. However, given the likelihood of this type of incident happening near the property again, and to reassure our customers, we have decided to replace the plastic exterior of one of the gas risers with steel. Steel is a more robust material in terms of vandalism."

"This will mean that all the gas risers at the property will have a steel exterior. We hope to begin this work as soon as possible, working in collaboration with Incommunities and the local authority.”

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said they are investigating the car fire and enquiries are ongoing. Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log number 2444 of August 11.