A ROUTINE inspection of a Chichester fire hydrant caused a huge water fountain in St Pancras.
It happened around 11.30am today (February 17) and took around an hour for Portsmouth Water to isolate, with passers-by stopping and gazing at the unusual sight.
Sarah Aquilina works across the road at X-Cuts barber shop.
“At 11.30am funnily enough I was cutting a fireman’s hair and we turned round and looked and saw the man crossing the road to put the fire hydrant – to check it – and the next thing the lid blew off and he got soaked and it was really funny,” she said.
Water cascaded across the road and was lapping at the doorsteps of nearby cottages.
Their builder and owner, Serge Paris, had rushed to the scene following a call from Sarah.
“Sarah rang me and I honestly thought she was winding me up.
“She said its water, its 20ft high, I thought ‘I don’t believe it’.”
West Sussex Fire and Rescue said the accident had happened during a routine inspection and maintenance session.
A spokeswoman said there were around 18,000 such hydrants across the county and as far as their records went, this had only happened twice before.
“During the process of testing the hydrant they open and close it,” she said. “On a very rare occasion this will fail and as in this case will create a spectacular fountain.”