Resident ‘lucky to not be badly hurt’ after gas explosion at block of flats

A resident of a block of flats was lucky not to be badly injured in a suspected gas explosion which blew out a chunk of wall, a neighbour said.

Fire crews and paramedics were called to Collingwood Court in Washington, Tyne and Wear, around midday following reports of a blast.

The North East Ambulance Service said one person had been taken to the Sunderland Royal Hospital, while the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said any injuries were not thought to be serious.

Detail of the damage at the flats (Tom Wilkinson/PA)
Detail of the damage at the flats (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

The suspected gas explosion punched a hole in the third floor of a four-storey block of flats.

It blew out bricks and a window, leaving the sitting room exposed.

Specialist gas engineers were at the scene into Monday afternoon, as well as fire crews and police.

A local resident said a man was in the flat at the time of the explosion, and he was lucky not to have been blown out of the hole it left.

The witness, who gave his name as Eddie, was visiting a friend in the block just two doors away when it happened.

He said: “I didn’t hear anything but you could feel it through the floor when the wall hit the ground and I saw the big hole.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. The guy was inside but he is fine.

“He could have been blown out of the window.”

Crews from Washington, Birtley and South Shields are currently in attendance at a suspected gas explosion at Collingwood Court Washington.

A block of flats has been evacuated and we are awaiting on an assessment from structural engineers. pic.twitter.com/ZgVoLreDgS

— Tyne and Wear FRS (@Tyne_Wear_FRS) April 1, 2019

The local said flats have been evacuated and residents have not been told when it will be safe for them to return.

A pile of fallen masonry could be seen in the garden of the ground floor flat below the blast.

Police have cordoned off the flats and were controlling access to the properties.

The fire service said the damage will now be assessed by structural engineers.

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