INVESTIGATIONS have begun into a gas explosion that flattened a house on Tyneside and left six people in hospital
Emergency workers were called to the bungalow in Marian Court, Teams, Gateshead, after neighbours reported a smell of gas.
But as they tried to help the elderly male occupant inside the house, it exploded.
Three police officers were injured, two of whom with burns to the head and forearms, and one with more severe burns to his face.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “The three police officers remain in hospital in a stable condition where they are being treated for burns injuries.” Also injured were a gas engineer, a paramedic and the occupant of the house.
All are said to be in a stable condition.
Today, as the clean-up operation began, the Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into the cause of the blast.
Richard Bulmer, HM inspector, said yesterday that examinations had been carried out on either side of the property and there was no indication of any more structural collapse.
He said: “The blast appears to have happened in the rear of the property.
“We understand there is a cooker and a gas boiler and we won’t know the cause of the blast until we get to them. We are securing the site today and we will gain access to the gas appliance within the property sometime tomorrow.”
Meanwhile neighbours spent the night in temporary accommodation, while others returned to their homes hours after the explosion.
Resident Margaret Hood, 82, returned home yesterday morning after she spent the night at her son’s house. She told of the moment she heard the explosion.
The mother-of-two said: “I was sitting in my chair watching the TV.
“I looked out of the window and I saw a man testing the gas.
“He then tried to get into the house where the explosion was but he had to break the door. A policeman told me I had to get out of the house and then I heard a massive bang. I got the shock of my life.
“The man was standing on the path when it happened but a policeman ran out of the house and collapsed on the grass.
“I was so frightened. I didn’t know what was happening.”
A spokesman for the Gateshead Housing Company said: “We were alerted by emergency services to an incident involving a potential gas leak at one of the homes we manage at Marian Court.
“Our officers attended the scene with emergency workers and as a consequence of the incident a number of residents have found temporary accommodation.
“Our officers are now working with them to find suitable alternative housing.”
One theory behind the explosion is that the occupant make have been attempting to fit or remove a gas cooker.
Housing bosses confirmed that there was no issue with the gas supply to the property and that all servicing certificates were up to date.
The spokesman added: “We can confirm that the home involved in the incident had an annual gas servicing certificate and that no repairs were outstanding at the property.
“We would like to thank the emergency services for their prompt response and residents for their patience and understanding during and since the incident.
“We are now working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive to investigate the incident.
“We would also remind all of our tenants to always contact our HomeRepairs service about any repair work needed in their homes.”
The man was standing on the path when it happened but a policeman ran out of the house and collapsed on the grass. I was so frightened – Resident Margaret Hood, left