A burst mains water pipe sprayed water 40 feet into the air this morning near the centre of Market Harborough.
To some people it sounded like the muffled roar of a late night party; to others like the rattle of a giant suitcase being wheeled along the road.
What it was, in fact, was the most spectacular water leak that Market Harborough has ever seen.
Eye witnesses say water shot at least 40 feet into the air - twice as high as neighbouring houses - from Tuesday’s early-morning mains burst on The Broadway, Market Harborough.
The tower of water crashed down for at least four hours onto three houses on the street - numbers 16, 18 and 20.
And by the time the huge geyser of water was stopped by a Severn Trent emergency team, two of the houses were seriously damaged by the water, and one slightly affected.
“It’s a rare event, and something we’ll work on round the clock until it’s sorted” said Paul Louth, of water company Severn Trent.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life” said local resident Jim Swallow. “It was a geyser of water at least 40 feet high, maybe 50 feet high. It made a noise like thunder, with the odd cracking noise as rocks and pebbles were thrown into the air.”
Local man Grahame Bullivant was one of the first to spot the leak from the 400mm pipe, as he made his way to work at around 2.30am.
“It came up under a car, and the car was bouncing up and down with the force of the water” he said.
At 3.30am Andrew and Sarah Ainsworth were woken by their young daughter and became aware of a bubbling noise outside.
“It was the leak, bubbling up under our neighbour’s car, and rocks were being thrown across the road by the force of the water” said Mr Ainsworth.
“Fortunately we’ve had a new roof not long ago, so the damage in our house isn’t too bad.”
At around 4am, neighbour Mrs Anita Lane was awoken by knocking on her door, and heard the noise of what she thought was a late night party, somewhere in the street.
“The knocking was my neighbour telling me to move my car” she said. “The ‘party’ was this water spout. It was quite scary. The force of the water underneath my car was bumping it up and down, but fortunately the car started and I shifted it down the road.”
After the car was moved, the water now shot at least 40 feet into the air, drenching numbers 16, 18 and 20 The Broadway.
Mrs Lane’s house has suffered serious damage as water flooded through the house and cascaded down the chimney. Her lounge
carpet was sodden with water which has poured through the house. Her back lawn is covered with rocks and pebbles thrown right over the house by the water spout.
Next door again, Mr David Tink was woken in the early hours by a noise that he first thought was a big suitcase on wheels rattling along the street.
“But when I looked out of the window I could see this fountain of water - I would say it was 50 feet high - shooting up into the air” he said.
“My whole house, from the curtains in the bedroom to the carpet in the living room is now soaking wet.”
The Rev Janet Dudley, who lives opposite the affected houses said when she looked out of her window this morning at 7am she thought it was pouring with rain.
“Then when I saw what had happened, I was amazed. I’ve never seen a water spout like it before.”
Mr Louth, the business leader for Leicestershire Infrastructure for Severn Trent, said the “rare event” had been caused because there was a small hole in the affected pipe rather than the usual split, which would just seep into the road.
“We’ll work round the clock and we’ll have a repair by tonight or first thing tomorrow morning” he promised. “We’ll come back later to get a better finish to the road.”