Two pensioners hospitalised after suspected gas leak explosion demolishes house

Robin Cunningham, 77, was flown by air ambulance to Hospital in Glasgow, his wife 74-year-old wife Marion is being treated for minor burns

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The Independent Online

Two pensioners have been taken to hospital after a suspected gas leak blast demolished their home

Robin Cunningham, 77, was flown by air ambulance to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. His wife 74-year-old wife Marion is being treated for minor burns.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the explosion on Murdiston Avenue in Callander, Stirling, just before 6am this morning.

Following the blast nine houses in the area were evacuated. Stirling Council has set up a rest centre in the town.

Chief Inspector Russell Penman said: "The house has been totally demolished as a result of the explosion.

"We are treating this as a suspected gas leak and inquiries are at a very early stage to establish the cause. Scotland Gas Networks are in attendance and working with us."

Eric Brown, proprietor of the nearby Roman Camp Hotel, said: "I heard a loud bang at around 5.45am this morning.

"The hotel is set quite far back from the road so it wasn't particularly loud from where we are, but it was enough to wake me up.

"I understand that a lot of houses have been evacuated."

Neighbour Alistair Allan, who lives across the road, told STV News: "We were all woken up at 6.30am by this almighty bang. I looked out the window and the house across the road was on fire. I ran across and the elderly gentleman was under rubble, I think in the kitchen, and his wife was in another part of the house.

"I could hear her calling out for help. She was saying 'I can't take it any more'.

"The firefighters were there very quickly. They got the woman out through a window and I think the man was out after about 15 or 20 minutes.

"My daughter came in last night about 8.30pm and said there was a strong smell of gas in the street but we didn't think anything of it at the time."

Claire Luti, a partner in nearby Dreadnought Garage, said: "I live at the other end of town so I didn't hear the explosion, but I heard the helicopter that was sent to take them (the man) to hospital. They are an elderly couple in their 70s who are quite well known in the town."

Mr Allan, 47, said his 16-year-old daughter Nicola told him the house across the street exploded.

He was one of the first people on the scene, answering calls for help from inside the collapsed house.

"We were in bed at 5.30am this morning and were woken with this horrendous bang. My daughter shouted across to me that the house across the road had been demolished and was on fire.

"I called the emergency services and went across to see if they were OK and thankfully they are alive but I don't know the condition of them."

On describing the scene, he said: "I totally couldn't believe it, to be honest. It's a gas explosion, I take it, so there is no wonder there is the devastation that there is here.

"The two occupants were shouting for help -'Get me out' and 'I can't take this any longer, get me out, get me out' - but there was no doubt we had to leave it to the fire services to get them out."

He said firefighters arrived at the scene after about five minutes.

Mr Allan's house is cordoned off and he was told he cannot get back inside until safety checks have been done.