A RESIDENT of Wellington House has spoken about the “night out that nobody wants” following the evacuation of the building due to strong chemical smells late on Sunday evening.

Ashish Channawar said the British Red Cross and Swindon Hindu Temple came together to help families who were forced out of their homes without proper clothing or money.

He also praised the “immense community spirit” demonstrated by residents, as they made the best of a bad situation.

Ashish said: “Around 11pm the fire brigade was at the site after receiving a complaint from one of the residents about a strong smell and difficulty in breathing.

“Soon police and the Swindon Borough Council Incident Team joined in. The fire brigade team went in and found no smoke or symptoms of fire, but the sensors and uneasiness felt by them led to the suspicion of chemicals or gas.

“There is no gas connection to the building so the investigation team focused on investigating it for chemicals.

“At this time, they decided to lock down the building until further investigation, and call in an advanced squad with sniffer dogs.”

Residents were initially moved to The Great Western Hotel, an Arkell’s pub opposite.

At 1am, they were told that they would not be able to return overnight.

The majority of the residents, some of whom were in nightwear and unable to return to collect money or bank cards, either went to stay with friends and family, or were put up in hotels.

That left 20 who went to emergency accommodation at the council’s civic centre, where the British Red Cross provided blankets, hot drinks and food.

At midday on Monday, when residents were finally allowed to return to their flats, there was no transport arranged, despite their lack of appropriate footwear or money.

So the local Hindu temple swung into action, making sure people were delivered home, and even providing lunch for everyone.

Ashish said: “It was highly distressing time for residents of Wellington House, as young children, pregnant ladies and elderly people were out of their homes on Sunday night without any preparation due to emergency evacuation.

“However, the incident showed an immense community spirit where people supported each other, co-operated with the investigation team, and provided all the information and support needed for the investigation.”