Exeter gas explosion destroys house but couple have miracle escape

May 7, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A couple had a ”miracle” escape after their home was turned into a pile of rubble by a massive gas explosion, police have said.

The 37-year-old man and 47-year-old woman were at home with their pet West Highland terrier Harry when the blast virtually destroyed their property.

Police say the front and back walls and the roof of the terraced house were blown off by the force of the huge explosion.

Neighbours heard a ”loud bang” before the pair and their dog were seen clambering out of the debris with burns to their hands and face.

The couple were both taken to hospital with serious burns following the blast but doctors say they will both survive.

Fire crews, police and paramedics were called to the property in Exeter, Devon, at around 2.15pm on Thursday.

Furniture and even paintings hanging on the remaining walls could be seen from the outside yesterday after the blast left the home exposed to the elements.

Neighbour Albert Barnes, 77, who lives next door said: ”I was having my lunch when there was a massive explosion.

”The whole house shook and then I heard shouting and screaming. I looked out and the house was gone, there was only rubble everywhere.

”It’s an absolute mess at the moment. There’s bits and pieces of rubble all over the street – the house will have to be completely rebuilt.”

Pip Radford, 47, a carer who lives further down the street, said the couple’s Scottie dog called Harry was also hurt.

He said: ”There is little of the house left. It has been blown apart.

”The right side of the lady’s hair was singed and she was bleeding. The tops of the man’s fingers were completely burned.

”I ran up and there was a little dog running around, completely bewildered he was all singed. They are lucky to be alive, how they managed to all get out I don’t know.”

Local student Esme Owen, 18, said: ”My house just stared shaking. I looked out the window and saw curtains and debris flying around the garden.

”I could hear shouting and the whole house had disappeared. I could see into all the rooms. There was a woman and man and a dog climbing out from under the rubble.

”All the neighbours jumped in and tried to help. They are lucky to be alive. How they managed to get out I don’t know.”

The couple were taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and later transferred to a burns unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol where they are said to be in a non life threatening condition.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said 35 neighbouring properties were evacuated and the Health and Safety Executive has been informed.

He said: ”Police evacuated properties in a street in Exeter after an explosion. Fire, police and ambulance services were alerted after a member of the public called the emergency services after reports of a loud bang.

”Two people suffered burns in the incident and there is extensive damage to a house. A man, aged 37, and woman, aged 47, have been transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for treatment for burn in juries.

”They are not in a life threatening condition. A dog was also injured and was taken to a local vets for treatment.”

Dave Cogger, fire watch manager, said they are investigating a possible gas leak and added that two homes either side have been deemed unsafe.

He said: ”We dealt with a gas explosion and two casualties were taken to hospital by ambulance, suffering burns.

”There is severe damage to the property. The explosion completely blew off the roof and the external walls front and back are gone.

”There are only the two side walls left standing. We are not in a position to speculate about what happened.

”Whether there was a gas leak and they have turned something on, we don’t know.”

A spokesman for Exeter City Council added: ”One of our teams was immediately dispatched when we were alerted by emergency services.

”We are on the site making sure the area was safe. These are not council properties but an inspector from our building control department has been on site to see of there are any dangerous structures.

”One house has been demolished and two are deemed unsafe. If approached the city council will help to arrange emergency accommodation for any of those living in the properties.”

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