Terrified residents were forced to flee their homes this morning after a huge jet of fire shot out of the pavement on their street.

Firefighters were called to Homefield Gardens, Mitcham, at about 3am to tackle the 20ft blaze, which was caused by a gas leak which had been ignited by nearby electric cables.

About half a dozen homes had to be evacuated by Mitcham fire crew, who cordoned off the road for two-and-a-half hours until UK Power Networks were able to shut off the electrical mains, leaving the entire road without power.

Watch manager Robinson, of Mitcham fire crew, said the incident was one of the most dangerous incidents of his kind that he had seen and resembled a "mini-volcano".

He said: “Gas leaks, to be honest, are quite common but you very seldom see it create a fire of this sort.

“Luckily no one was injured but it was obviously frightening for many of people who had to stand out on the street in their dressing gowns.”

The incident started after gas provider, Southern Gas Networks (SGN), were asked to attend a gas leak at about 9pm on Monday Evening.

An SGN spokesman added: "When gas engineers arrived on site it became clear that a damaged electricity cable had contributed to the escape of gas from our network, creating an ignition point.

"When gas escaped from this pipe it subsequently caused a fire. Our engineers made the situation safe and there were no safety concerns."

And electricity provider, UK Power Networks, said engineers are working to restore power to 36 homes which have been affected.

A spokeswoman said: "We were contacted about a gas leak at 3.35am today and our staff attended to isolate power supplies in the area for safety reasons.

"Our staff are working to reconnect the electricity supplies as swiftly as safely possible.

"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience the interruption to electricity supplies has caused. The cause will be investigated."

Did you see what happened? Call the newsdesk on 020 8330 9540 or email: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk.