Man’s ‘lucky’ escape as blast rocks street

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An investigation was launched yesterday (Thursday) into an explosion that blew apart a Sheffield house, with a man escaping serious injury because he had just left the property.

He had closed the front door of his home in Dundas Road, Tinsley, when it was destroyed with an “almighty bang” that neighbours said shook the street like “some sort of earthquake”.

The resident had a “lucky escape”, said the fire service. He was taken to the Northern General Hospital with minor injuries, including facial burns and cuts, while a neighbouring woman and two children were taken to Rotherham District Hospital with suspected smoke inhalation.

Roof tiles and wall insulation rained down across the street in the explosion, just after 9am.

Families - some still in their pyjamas – were evacuated to Hinde House School and the road was cordoned off for hours as an investigation began into the cause of what is thought to be a gas explosion. Gas, electric and water supplies to the street were switched off.

Ade Robinson, incident commander for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The house is totally destroyed. It is going to have to be demolished as possibly is the one next door.

“It has been a really violent explosion which we do normally get with gas, it is a volatile substance. That type of explosion does create a hell of a mess.”

Neighbours described the devastation.

Sarah Knox, aged 35, who lives a few doors away, said: “I heard an enormous bang and when I glanced out of the window, I saw the house flying through the air - it was terrifying.

“When I rushed outside, I saw the house had no front and no roof. My good friends live next door and my first thoughts were for them, so without thinking, I rushed inside their house to see if they were hurt and to help them get out.

“I found my friends and their little girls shaken but OK and covered in black soot from the explosion. The upstairs of their home was on fire and their front window had blown out, so we all hurried to get out of the house just as two more large bangs erupted from the house next door. It was really frightening.

“I know the man who lives in that house lives alone, but he does have a young son who often stays with him, so hopefully the young lad wasn’t in the house when this happened.”

Another neighbour, Alan Bailey, was woken by the explosion.

“It was so loud and then when I looked out of the window I could see debris all over the street. In my groggy state I couldn’t comprehend what was happening.

“The police evacuated us all shortly after that and we’ve been standing out here ever since, waiting to find out what’s happened. I haven’t got any cash on me to go anywhere and I wasn’t even wearing shoes, somebody’s just given me a pair of flip flops to wear.

“People seem shaken but, on the whole, everybody I’ve spoken to is OK.”

More than a dozen emergency vehicles, and two National Grid vans, were in the street in the aftermath. Dozens of residents, many still in their pjyamas, watched from a safe distance as firefighters tackled the smouldering ruins.