RESIDENTS in Halliwell had a lucky escape with a wheelie bin caught fire outside a block of flats and damaged gas pipes under the ground.

Nine firefighters were called to the scene in Canning Drive at 3pm when they received reports of the small fire in the bin by the rear door of a block of flats.

The heat of the fire affected the external gas supply, and residents were instructed to close their windows and not turn any electrical items on, but were not evacuated.

There was slight flame damage to the rear door panel, and the firefighters stayed on the scene while waiting for National Grid engineers to come and fix the gas supply.

Watch commander Neil Mercer said it wasn’t uncommon for gas works to be affected by small fires.

He said: “It does happen where the wheelie bins, you’ve just got to be mindful in case the gas pipes are affected as the heat can be radiated through the ground.

“It could have been a lot worse if the gas had been ignitied.”

Nobody was hurt during the incident, and the fire is being treated as accidental.