Three hero neighbours ran into the burning rubble of a house and rescued an elderly couple following a massive explosion that injured seven people, say locals.
Witnesses described a harrowing and chaotic scene in Ashford, Kent, as the injured were given assistance while a fire raged within the shell of the destroyed home and smoke filled the air.
Karen Jackson, who lives three doors down, told KentLive: “We looked out and the whole front of the house was torn off. I could see people out the front needing help to walk.
“They were injured yes, one lady’s trousers were ripped badly. They was one elderly lady that needs a lot of help. They were still working on a few of them when we were evacuated.”
Neighbours said three men rushed into the fiery scene and pulled two people out just before 8am on Tuesday.
Claire Oram said at the scene: “I spoke to a friend who said their nephew pulled a man out of one of the houses.
“I think he was injured. Its awful, an awful incident. I just really hope everyone is ok.”
Kent Police said a number of people who were reported to have been trapped were freed by emergency services.
Two people were seriously injured in the suspected gas explosion which set off a deafening bang and shook homes more than half a mile away.
Five suffered “less serious” injuries.
Police confirmed everyone had been accounted for following a search of the rubble.
Neighbours said the house that blew up was occupied by an elderly couple
A family with children in their teens lived in one of the neighbouring homes, and a couple lived in the other, they said.
Dramatic aerial photos revealed the scale of the devastation, including the charred shell of the terraced property that blew up, and heavy damage to two neighbouring homes.
A local resident, who knows the people who were injured, told the Mirror: “We heard an enormous explosion and the house shook.
“We went running upstairs and saw the house across from us blown apart and the fire just starting up.
“We was straight on to the fire and emergency services. There was smoke and fire and debris everywhere.
“I’m pretty shaken up at the moment over the while situation, and just hoping they are ok.”
A man who lives nearby posted video showing the house in flames and debris scattered across the street as smoke was swept away by strong winds.
A police officer, wearing a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic, tried to stop locals from getting closer to the scene as a search for casualties got underway.
The neighbour tweeted: “Huge gas explosion on my road, front of the house is completely gone.”
Some neighbouring homes were evacuated during the response.
Gas engineers from SGN and the UK Power Networks were at the scene.
On social media, people living more than a half a mile away reported feeling their homes shake.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “An explosion in Ashford has resulted in two people sustaining serious injuries.
“Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and South East Coast Ambulance Service were called to Mill View, Willesborough, Ashford at 7.57am on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 following a report of an explosion at a house.
“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.
“The Salvation Army have set up a centre at a local village hall to provide support to those who have been evacuated.
A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said: “We can confirm our attendance at an incident in Mill View, Willesborough, Ashford, following an explosion reported to us shortly before 8am today.