By Alex Matthews
Residents of a street in Leicester described a ‘supersonic bang’ and ‘giant fireball’ going up after a house was ripped apart in a gas explosion.
The property in the Birstall area of the city was had its roof completely torn off and half the house had collapsed, exposing the upstairs bedrooms to the outside.
The house, which neighbours reported was up for sale, exploded at around 7:30am this morning (MONDAY).
Neighbouring properties also had significant damage, with window shattered and doors torn off hinges, and bits of roof and insulation were found lying in surrounding streets.
A window cleaner on his way to work stopped off to help as residents rushed to the stricken house, and reportedly attempted to free a trapped man before the fire service arrived.
A paper boy on his morning round had also stood at the front door just minutes earlier.
Tony Timson, 66, who lives several doors down from the house, said: “I heard a gigantic explosion and looked out of the house to see debris flying through the air. The damage was catastrophic.
“As I came outside a window cleaner, who is a lovely lad, was on his way to work. He had stopped and was running up the road to help.
“Outside the house he said he could hear someone shouting that they were trapped, and started trying to dig him out when the fire service arrived.
“The firefighters immediately told everyone to back off and set up a cordon. It was impressive how quickly they arrived.
“I saw the paper boy was outside the house on his bike only a few moments before the explosion too. “
Tony’s wife Sian, 62, added: “It was an awful shock. You could feel the house move.
“I have never seen devastation like it. It’s very fortunately no more people were hurt, but I feel awful for those living there.
“It’s a dreadful thing to happen right before Christmas.”
Another neighbour, whose back garden overlooks the property, said: “You can see from here there is hardly any house left.
“All the roof tiles in the surrounding houses are in a mess too.
“I was sat with my son-in-law enjoying a cup of tea at 7:30 this morning when we saw a giant fireball go up and a huge boom shook the house. Everything went dark.
“We had no idea what it was at first – the only think we could think of was that an airplane had come down in the street and knocked out a house.
“The noise was tremendous. Now I’ve seen the front of it, it looks more like a bombed out house you would see in a war zone, not in Leicester.”
Immediate residents were evacuated while fire service, police, and maintenance workers secured the area, blocking off the entire road.
The blast and falling debris caused damage to several houses at the bottom of the garden in a nearby cul-de-sac.
Gas and electricity supplies to the surrounding houses .
Another neighbour, 58, who works from home, said: “I was at my desk on my phone at the time when I heard the boom. It was supersonic – just like and aeroplane.
“I got my boots on and ran out into the street to see lots of my neighbours standing and looking at the damage.
“Some of them said their homes had been hit by debris and taken some damage too.
“I’m lucky I’m a little bit further away, but I’m not allowed out of my house.”