A MAN suffered serious burns and homes were evacuated after an explosion at a County Durham house.
Emergency services were called to Dawson Road, in Wingate, following the blast in the front bedroom yesterday.
Families living on the quiet cul-de-sac said they heard a huge bang and saw flames billowing from the front bedroom window of the semi-detached house.
The 36-year-old man, named locally as Laurence Mason, was last night in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after being transferred from James Cook Hospital, in Middlesbrough. His condition was described as serious.
His mother, Pam, was also in the house but wasn’t injured in the blaze and was checked over by paramedics. People living in the surrounding houses were evacuated for around an hour while fire and police investigated the blast.
Steven Yews, 28, a call centre worker, lives next door to where the accident happened.
He said: “All I heard was this massive bang – I thought my roof was coming in. I quickly got ready and went downstairs. I heard people shouting for Pam to get out of the house.
“There was a huge hole in the wall. It’s caused a lot of damage to the house. When I got down, Pam was outside – she was in shock she was just walking backwards and forwards.
“There had been an explosion in the front bedroom where Lawrence sleeps. He was outside. He was covered in dirt and soot so we couldn’t tell what he was like.
“We could see flames coming out of the bedroom.”
Three fire engines, ambulance and police were called to the incident at 8.15am. Last night, a cordon remained around part of the property.
The cause the fire is not yet known and police and the fire service will continue their investigations today. It is not believed to be suspicious.
Factory worker Steven Coulson, 37, who lives in the cul-de-sac, said: “I had just finished nightshift and there was a knock at the door. It was the police and they told me to get out. I didn’t hear a bang but there were a few fire engines.”
A 35-year-old mother-of-three, who asked not to be named, said: “There was a bang and we could see flames in the window. We were shouting for them to get out. My son called 999 and the fire brigade came out.”
A Durham Police spokeswoman said: “A 36-year-old man who was in the bedroom at the time suffered serious burns and was taken initially to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough before being transferred to the RVI in Newcastle.
“His mother, who was also in the property at the time, has accompanied him to hospital but is not thought to have received any injuries herself.
“A joint investigation involving police and Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service is underway to establish the cause, but at this stage it is not believed to be suspicious.”