Search continues for possible casualties after house explosion

Fire crews are carrying out searches for potential casualties trapped in the debris of a house after a suspected gas explosion.

Emergency services were called to reports of a house fire in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Lancashire, at about 1.20pm on Friday.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Tony Crook said the house on Kirkby Avenue collapsed at about the time firefighters arrived on the scene.

He said “We’ve now got seven fire appliances in attendance with an aerial ladder platform.

“The fire was severe and spread to next door. We’ve now suppressed the fire.

“We’ve got our specialist crews, urban search and rescue, carrying out a search in conjunction with our fire dogs that have been deployed to try to find out if there are any casualties trapped within the debris of the house.

“At the moment we can’t tell if there’s people or not but we’re carrying out our search and rescue operations as we speak.”

He said the cause of the blast was initially believed to be gas but investigations were ongoing.

People in nearby properties were advised to close windows and doors to avoid being affected by smoke.

A police spokesman said: “Our officers are at the scene, along with our colleagues from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and the ambulance service.

“A safety cordon has been put in place and nearby residents have been evacuated.”

Road closures are also in place and people are advised to avoid the area, police said.