The cause of a suspected gas explosion which killed a toddler will likely not be known for “some considerable time”, a police chief has said.
George Arthur Hinds, aged two years and 10 months, died while a 44-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman remain in a critical condition in hospital following the incident on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham, Lancashire, on Sunday.
Emergency services were called to the scene of the blast at about 2.40am and found two houses collapsed with serious damage to a third property.
On Monday, Chief Inspector Chris Hardy, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “This appalling incident has resulted in the loss of a young boy’s life and has left two others with very serious injuries. My thoughts today are with George’s family and loved ones at this sad time, as well as those others affected by this incident.
“While we have today started our enquiries, alongside our partners, into what led to yesterday’s explosion I must stress that we are faced with an extremely complex scene which needs painstaking and forensic investigation. I appreciate that the community are concerned and want answers but I’m afraid it is likely to take some considerable time before we are in a position to provide them.
“I would like to appeal to anyone who may have information which could assist our investigation to come forward and contact us. Even if you think the information you have is insignificant or irrelevant please tell us and we can be the judge.
“I would also ask that people try and avoid speculating about what may have happened and what the cause of this tragic incident may have been and give police and partners the time and space to make the enquiries they need to get to the truth.”
George’s parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were also injured, but not seriously, and have since been discharged from hospital.
In a tribute to their son, they said: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.
“He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened.
“Our beautiful little angel grew his wings today.”
Residents described the noise of the blast as “like a bomb going off”, with debris that covered nearby streets and fields.
Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 quoting log 0180 of May 16th or on the Major Incident Portal at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/0401020121W04-PO1