THE 'spirit of the Blitz' was evoked on Saturday night after a gas leak in a Fulham tower block forced scores of residents to bed down at Hammersmith Town Hall.
The council laid on special buses to transport more than 100 affected people to its King Street headquarters following the leak, which resulted in the evacuation of Herbert Morrison House on the Clem Attlee Estate in Lillie Road, Fulham.
Other residents went to the nearby Rylston Pub which stayed open throughout the night, offering tea and entertainment.
Rylston landlord Adam Newberry said: "Some elderly women told me the spirit and camaraderie of people in the pub reminded them of the Blitz."
Residents said gas started leaking from a main pipe at about 8pm. Engineers turned off supplies in flats but couldn't fix the ruptured pipe and, at 1am, police called for the block to be evacuated.
James Smith, who lives on the ninth floor, said council workers laid on special buses for the elderly and disabled to get to the Town Hall, while a policeman flagged down a regular bus to transport younger neighbours. Residents were checked into the council's emergency room, where hot drinks, food and blankets were provided.
Praising the council, Mr Smith said: "There was a nice enough atmosphere and some beds were arranged for maybe half the people. Some nice council staff gave out hot drinks and when I left at about 6.15am to get some breakfast with my brothers some of the staff had gone out to buy food for people."
Pub manager Mr Newberry said police knocked on the door at about 2am asking for help. "They said they had a bit of trouble and had been forced to evacuate residents," he said.
"The community centre across the road was locked so they asked if we could stay open. We moved a load of furniture around to get people in and we must have had about 150 people, including families, children and dogs.
"It was an amazing atmosphere and by the end people were laughing and joking. People who wouldn't normally speak to each other were getting on."
Some residents didn't get back to their homes until 1pm the following day and have been warned they could be without gas for at least two weeks while pipes are replaced, with Mr Smith adding neighbours have been offered £300 compensation.
Councillor Greg Smith said: "Events like this are unavoidable but they do show that by working together it is possible to beat adversity. Disruption was kept to a minimum because the council, together with the police and local businesses, were able react quickly to support residents when they needed it most."