House destroyed in Sheffield gas blast


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The Independent Online

A family living next to a terraced house that was completely demolished in a suspected gas explosion had a lucky escape, their neighbours said today.

Specialist search and rescue teams using dogs were checking the wrecked property on Dundas Road, Tinsley, Sheffield, following the blast at around 9.10am.

Police said no-one was seriously injured in the explosion but neighbours said a workman who was in the property at the time was taken away by ambulance and at least one other person suffered minor injuries.

Residents evacuated from their homes in the street said a family with children living next door had a lucky escape.

Ahmed Zafar said: "It could have been a lot worse. I think it was a lucky escape for the family that was living next door. The gentleman that was in there and doing the work. I think he was hurt and was taken away in the ambulance."

Mr Zafar, who lives opposite the destroyed house said: "I was just sleeping at the time and I heard a big bang go off. I thought it was an earthquake or something. I looked out and I saw the house on fire."

He said: "There was all kinds of kerfuffle going on down in the road. Kids crying and stuff. The street's quite busy. There's a lot of kids around, walking about. I think they got all shocked by it. The neighbours - I saw them. They were all shook up. The windows were all shattered and they were just coming out.

"Their kids were quite young. They have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. I think one of those got hurt and got taken away in the ambulance."

In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said: "Initial information indicates that gas is the source of the explosion."

Another evacuated resident, Awais Ali, said: "At nine o'clock this morning I just heard this big explosion going off.

"I didn't know what it was. I thought it could have been an earthquake or something. It was that serious.

"By the time I got outside I could see the loft insulation and roof supports lying about.

"A large amount had landed in my garden and that's six houses away.

"It was pretty serious."

Mr Ali said: "I just went down to see if the next door neighbours are alright because they're pretty close family friends.

"They were alright. They made a quick escape."

This afternoon, Dundas Road remained sealed off and a large number of fire and police vehicles were packed into the surrounding streets.

Group manager Ade Robinson, from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: "The explosion has more or less completely destroyed the property."

He said a specialist team from West Yorkshire was making a precautionary check on the property to make sure there is no-one else inside.

Mr Robinson said: "This is a methodical approach to ensure the residents' safety most importantly, firefighters' safety and our partners' safety as well while we're carrying out the search."

He said: "The information we have is that there's no-one in that property. But we need to be confident that that is the case. Therefore, we need to take these precautions and do a thorough search."