MORE than two dozen residents of a care home in Cirencester who were evacuated following an explosion yesterday were successfully rehomed, though it is not yet known when they can return.

28 residents were evacuated from Watermoor House care home after a fuse box exploded at around 1.50pm on Tuesday.

Neighbouring care home Paternoster House, situated over the road, provided temporary refuge while alternative accommodation for residents was found.

Ruth Halstead, home manager of Watermoor House, said: “We had an explosion in a fuse box, which, following our normal policy procedures, we called the fire brigade.

“We got the fire brigade out, and while we were touring the house, checking everything, we noticed smoke coming up from the cellar and into the dining room, where the mains power cable comes into the building.”

She said: “The fire brigade were very prompt at getting here and they sorted out the damage down in the cellar. And we then got the utilities in to isolate the electricity. “We have safely evacuated all of our residents into a neighbouring care home, Paternoster.”

Ruth said the explosion was heard by a member of staff who “reported it immediately”.

In regards to temporarily rehoming the residents, she said: “Some have gone home with families and the others, there’s plenty of beds around Cirencester.”

The fire brigade left the scene at around 3.45pm, according to Ruth, while engineers from Scottish and Southern left just before 5pm.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Helen Wallace, marketing manager, said the rehoming of the residents was orchestrated through the county council’s Cotswold Care Team.

“The safety of residents was the primary concern. It all went smoothly. And all the team worked really well. All emergency procedures were followed.

“There was never any question that they wouldn’t have had rooms.”

John Lamus, care home trustee, said, however, it is not yet know when the residents will be able to return to Watermoor.

“We are waiting for the repairs which are necessary, and it won’t be until they’re done.

“Obviously, we will wait until we are assured that circuits, because it was an electrical fire, they won’t come back until we are reassured that everything is all okay.

He said “it will probably be a phased return” partly because the residents require different levels of care and “they are affected differently”.

“We hope it’s days. It’s likely to be the end of the week, before all repairs are completed,” he said.

Joy Warren, home manager at Paternoster House, also on Watermoor Road, said in her eight years in the role, she had never seen an evacuation on this scale.

“We all have a major incident contingency,” she said. “If something happens here and we need to put our residents in a place of safety, we use Watermoor House across the road. And likewise, if something happens there, they come over here, temporarily.”

She said more than 20 residents were brought over to Paternoster from around 3pm on Tuesday, with the heat having peaked at around 30 °C, while staff from both homes have worked throughout the afternoon to transfer residents’ personal belongings.

“They gradually brought them all over. Some of my staff brought them over.”

She said her staff had been ensuring the residents are getting enough to drink and they were making them sandwiches for their dinner.

Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for adult social care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Once we were contacted about the fire at Watermoor House, the council started to find alternative accommodation for residents.

“Working alongside the staff at Watermoor and Paternoster homes, we were able to find vacancies and arrange transport for residents to be moved.

“Some of the residents went home to family or friends, others have gone to care homes in the local area.

“I would like to thank the staff from the locality team, the fire service, Watermoor House, Paternoster and the other homes that took residents in at short notice overnight.”

Jon French, group manager at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Crews from Cirencester and Fairford attended a small fire at Watermoore House in Cirencester.

“The fire started in the fuse box and as a result of the damage there is no power to the property.

“Our Civil Protection Team worked with the home’s management to arrange alternative accommodation while repairs are made.”