Clacton: Homes demolished after gas explosion
THREE homes were demolished yesterday following a huge gas explosion in Clacton.
Emergency services were called to Wellesley Road at about 2.30am yesterday where a house, converted into flats, had partially collapsed in the blast.
A female resident, believed to be in her 70s, suffered serious burns and was taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
A man was found beneath the rubble when a newly-qualified search and rescue dog was sent in. The remaining tenants, including a pregnant woman and a number of small children, all suffered minor injuries and were taken to Colchester General Hospital.
Sixty people had to leave their homes when nearby properties were evacuated for safety reasons while a fire continued to blaze under the rubble.
Crews spent a total of nine hours fighting the fire, which was extinguished by 11.30am.
In the afternoon, a 21-tonne JCB was brought in to demolish the remains of the properties. In the ruins was a pet hamster which escaped unscathed.
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The JCB driver managed to carefully extract the cage and lower it to the ground where fire crews brought it to safety. The hamster was seen moving around before being taken to a local vet for a check-up.
Assistant Divisional Officer Neil Holloway said: “It is extremely lucky no one has died here and it is testament to the skill of firefighters and the Urban Search and Rescue Team that everyone has been rescued alive.”
The search and rescue dog, named Kirby, took less than a minute to find the male resident. Crews then used a specialist camera to confirm his location and pull him out.
Richard Williams, 36, lives next door and saw the explosion from his flat.
“I could hear the gas streaming around outside the building so I got up and looked out my window, then the next thing I saw was a big orange flame and next door’s house coming towards me.
“I ran out into the street and could hear the children who live in the second-floor flat crying and their mum was shouting ‘Help!’’.
“I rang the emergency services and eventually everyone was rescued and taken to hospital.
“I’ve seen the dad and he was quite lucky, he just had some scars and a cut lip.
“You just wouldn’t ever think something like this would happen right next door to you.”
Businesses along the street were closed all morning after electricity was cut off while the property was made safe.