Harmless but pungent French gas leak prompts two calls to fire brigade in Harold Hill

09:48 23 January 2013

Firefighters were called to reports of the stench

Firefighters were called to reports of the stench


Firefighters were called to two addresses in Harold Hill yesterday after an unwelcome foreign visitor turned up noses.

A cloud of foul-smelling but harmless gas drifted across the south-east after a leak from a French factory was swept into Britain by Channel winds.

Alerts from keen-nostrilled members of the public in Drapers’ Academy at about 11.30am and Bartholomew Drive an hour earlier were among 42 emergency call-outs received by London Fire Brigade.

Recorder reader Michelle Simpson of North Hill Drive, Harold Hill, said she got wind of the gas leak when the “awful stench” arrived at about noon.

In all cases no gas leak could be found and it is believed the smell – which reports have compared to rotten cabbage – was a far-reaching strain of the continental aroma.

The Health Protection Agency has confirmed the smell poses no risk to public safety.

Did you smell the French stench in Havering yesterday? Let us know where you were by calling the news desk on 020 8477 3903 or e-mailing


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