Man survives massive gas blast in Southsea


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The Independent Online

An elderly man has survived a large explosion which is suspected to have been caused by a gas cooker being left on overnight.

The man, believed to be in his 90s, was not seriously injured but the blast destroyed 50% of the rear of his terrace home and damaged the front of it.

Fire chiefs said he had a lucky escape as he normally sleeps in the back of the house, which bore the brunt of the explosion in Welch Road, Southsea, Hampshire, just before 4am today.

Eight nearby properties were evacuated, with residents taken to a Salvation Army centre, while firefighters isolated the gas supply and engineers carried out structural checks.

Station manager Dave Smith, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The man usually sleeps in the back of the house but was asleep in the front room on the ground floor of the property at the time of the explosion.

"Had he been in the back of the house, it could have been a very different outcome.

"The explosion caused not only major structural damage to the elderly man's house but also the dividing walls to the adjacent properties.

"Our crew was able to quickly assess the scene, help the man to safety and isolate the gas supply.

"We then worked with our partners to carry out a controlled evacuation plan in the area and reassure residents.

"This is a very stark reminder of the dangers gas can cause. People should always check any gas appliances or cylinders are fully turned off before they go to bed or leave their house."

The elderly man, who has not been named, was taken to hospital by South Central Ambulance Service to be checked over, a spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said.