A LORRY plunged into a hole in East Grinstead, prompting fears of a huge explosion.
Gas roared from a ruptured main after the vehicle fell into a ditch made by Segas workmen.
The incident, which happened near the junction of Windmill Lane at about 9.30pm on Wednesday, September 30, 1982, sparked fears from police and fire chiefs of an explosion.
People living nearby were warned of the situation, but did not have to evacuate their homes.
The driver of the crashed lorry, Tony Medhurst, of Rodmell, escaped uninjured.
Safety diversions were put in place directing traffic along Windmill Lane and Lingfield Road while the vehicle, belonging to Atlas Express of Newhaven, was lifted out of the hole.
Gas workers were able to repair the damage and the road was opened again at about 2.15am.
The alarm was raised by East Grinstead police officer Graham Bisset, of nearby Newlands Crescent, who was on the scene until 1am with the emergency services.
He was putting his car away in the garage when he heard "the squealing of wheels" and the thud of a heavy object.
When he arrived at the scene he could hear and smell gas, so he instructed people to keep away.
"I was afraid that someone might have been smoking," he said.
Mr Bisset helped put up emergency signs and directed traffic while the lorry was recovered from the hole.
Two appliances from East Grinstead Fire Station also attended.
The lorry was on a night trip to Dunstable at the time of the incident.
A spokesman for Segas said the incident had not disrupted gas supplies.