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Hero neighbours pulled woman, 100, from rubble of house obliterated in ‘gas blast’

HERO neighbours pulled a 100-year-old woman from the wreckage of a house obliterated in an explosion today, neighbours said.

Three locals are said to have ran into the burning building after the huge blast left a “volcano of rocks” in Ashford, Kent.

The elderly woman is believed to be among seven people injured in the suspected gas explosion.

She is thought to have been trapped inside the property with others before they were dramatically rescued following the explosion which rocked the whole street.

One neighbour said a terrified woman came out of the house and was screaming “my parents are in there”.

Two people were airlifted to hospital in London with serious injuries while five others were taken to hospital in Ashford by ambulance.

One neighbour said: “Huge gas explosion on my road, front of the house is completely gone.”

It later emerged local heroes rushed into the home to rescue those inside.

HERO NEIGHBOURS

One man, who is said to be extremely shaken by what happened, ran into the home, which is understood to be owned by an elderly couple.

Former support worker Wendy Charman, 57, said: “It’s a 100-year-old woman who lives in the house. Imagine living to that age for this terrible thing to happen. I hope she pulls through.

“Apparently three young men ran in afterwards and pulled her out. They deserve awards.

“The explosion woke me up and I heard all the ambulance crews racing past before the helicopter overhead.”

Kim Dew, 55, felt the floor shake under her feet as the house blew up just after she walked past with dogs Lola, Bear and Lottie.

She said: “I heard this horrendous bang so I looked behind and there was this volcano of rocks which cascaded over the path.

Apparently three young men ran in afterwards and pulled her out. They deserve awards.”Neighbour Wendy Charman

“I just ran with the dogs as two seconds earlier I would have been under that rubble.

“It was split second timing and has really shaken me up. What if the dog went for a wee or something? I walk that route every single morning at the same time before work.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I was that close to it I could feel the ground going. It was mental.”

The care home manager ran back to cafe worker daughter Kaylie Bourne, 35, and pounded on the door to get back to safety.

Kaylie added: “The house shook. I thought one of the kids had dropped something upstairs and shouted ‘what was that?’ then mum was banging on the door shouting ‘open the door.

“One woman came out of the house and was screaming ‘my parents are in there’.

‘MY PARENTS ARE IN THERE’

“I looked out and saw these three men in their 30s who ran in to rescue those inside.

“It was scary as I could see a little flame as they were going in at the bottom before the whole thing eventually erupted with fire.”

Neighbour Karen Jackson, 44, was at home with her 15-year-old son when the “horrific” explosion rocked their house.

The mum-of-two told The Sun Online: “It shook the whole house. I ran out and saw the whole front of that house missing. There was debris all over the place.

“I saw neighbours trying to help casualties, some were being carried.

“I have heard people streets away say it shook their house. I’m about four houses away on the other side of the road. There is only a chimney breast left of that house now. There is nothing left of it.

It shook the whole house. I ran out and saw the whole front of that house missing.”Neighbour Karen Jackson

“I saw about four or five [injured] people. They think it was a gas explosion.
“The fire started from the back of the house.

“It was about three minutes after. It eventually engulfed the whole house, from what we could see before we were evacuated.

“There were people being carried and helped to walk. I think it was bystanders [helping] at first. “

One neighbour’s four-week-old new car has been written off by rubble.

Graham Galpin, Conservative candidate for the area, added: “It is a central house in a block of three which we believe belonged to an elderly couple.

“I think there was an act of heroism where a man pulled some people from the wreckage. He was very shaken up by what he saw.

“Somebody told him there were other people in there but he couldn’t get back inside. Unfortunately there are casualties I believe.

“This is a close community and this tragedy will absolutely shock the people that live here.”

Cllr Steve Campkin, who represents the ward for the Green Party, added: “They’ve closed most of the road off as there’s a risk of asbestos.

“The house is completely gone. It’s absolutely awful.”

Officers have been warning neighbours to keep windows and doors shut while anyone walking outside is being asked to wear a mask – not for Covid but due to the airborne asbestos being present in the air.

Chantel Weller, who lives adjacent to the road where the explosion occurred, told the BBC “the whole house shook”.

She said: “We all felt our houses shake along this road. The whole house shook, and it felt like something had blown into the side of it.

“People said they thought it might be a gas explosion, and it looks like the houses have been evacuated. The whole area is cordoned off.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said seven fire engines rushed to the scene.

A spokesman added: “Crews are working to extinguish any remaining signs of fire following an explosion at a house in Mill View, in Willesborough, Ashford.
 
“Seven fire engines and a height vehicle are at the scene, as well as a team from the Technical Rescue Unit.
 
“Crews are working with Kent Police and SECAmb, including its Hazardous Area Response team, and the air ambulance has also sent two road vehicles to the scene.

“Two casualties have been passed into the care of SECAmb.”

A South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) spokesperson said: “Two patients have been taken to hospital in London with serious injuries.

We all felt our houses shake along this road. The whole house shook, and it felt like something had blown into the side of it.”Neighbour Chantel Weller

“A further five patients have been taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries thought to be less serious.”

“We remain at the scene in support of our emergency service colleagues.”

Kent Police later confirmed all the residents in the properties affected by the blast have been accounted for.

A spokesman said: “An explosion in Ashford has resulted in two people sustaining serious injuries.

“The cause is yet to be established but at this stage the incident is not being treated as suspicious.

“A number of people were reported to have been trapped in the rubble and were rescued.

“Two people sustained serious injuries and were taken to a London hospital.

“A further five people were treated locally for injuries described as less serious. All residents are now accounted for

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