EXPLOSION LATEST: Gas firm called to Charles Street four times this year

Gas engineers have been called to Charles Street four times this year - but never to the house devastated by a huge explosion.

Fire officials said the blast, which happened on Saturday evening, was 'probably' caused by gas, with one resident telling The Gazette he had noticed a smell of gas in the area since moving into his flat three weeks ago.

Charles Street pictured earlier today.

Charles Street pictured earlier today.

But gas firm Cadent said it is 'not unusual' for it to be called to smells that are 'not gas-related', and said all four calls came before August.

None of them related to The Castleford - the three-storey home involved - or the homes on either side, a spokeswoman added.


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Pauline Citterio, 72, who was rescued by emergency services personnel after being trapped in the rubble for around 90 minutes, remains in a serious condition, her lodger and close friend Nigel Thomas said today.

Tony Wheeler, 28, was also rescued after being hit by falling masonry and timber, and spent over an house pinned to the floor by a joist before rescue crews were able to free him. He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment to head and leg injuries and later released. He later told The Gazette how he had cheated death.

Martin Viney, who was rescued from the seven-bedroom house by 42-year-old tattoo artist Jason Slater and another man, whose identity is still unknown, has been moved into a care home.

Mr Thomas, 64, who was drinking in Kaos in Queen Street when the explosion happened at around 5.55pm, is staying in the Trades Hotel in Lord Street. He is set to meet council staff on Friday with a view to moving into new, more permanent accommodation.

The three properties directly affected by the blast were still fenced off this morning, with a police officer sat in a van nearby watching the scene. A Citroen C4 had been moved outside of the cordoned off area, though a damaged black Ford Ka was still there.

It could be up to three weeks before investigators are allowed inside the former guest house to determine exactly what happened, the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said, while a spokeswoman for Blackpool Council said no decision has been made on whether the buildings can be saved, or will need to be brought down.

Ryan Sharpe, 25, has been unable to get into his flat next door since Saturday and said he was told the property was 'too unsafe' and had to be 'brought down' by a fire official on Monday.

He said he was later told by a safety inspector scaffolding may be put up in a bid to save residents' possessions, but that the building would still have to be demolished.

Ryan, who is now staying at a hostel in Gorton Street, added: "No-one has been telling us anything. We keep having to ask everyone.

"We are confused, really."