Almost eight weeks after the resort was rocked by a major blast, which by some ‘miracle’ its occupants survived, the remains of a former guest house have been demolished and removed.
Contractors have cleared the site of the three-former home, at 21 Charles Street, from which firefighters carried the motionless body of 72-year-old Pauline Citterio on Saturday, September 23.
As workers removed possessions from the devastated home, she was waking up in Royal Preston Hospital, unable to remember the moment the bricks and mortar collapsed on top of her.
Caught up in the sudden flash and bang on the teatime explosion, she suffered severe burns and multiple broken bones and was placed in a medically-induced coma after being freed from her concrete hell by resort fire crews.
Her partner, Martin Viney, who escaped unharmed, is now staying in an Egerton Road flat with lodger Nigel Thomas, who rushed to Charles Street after hearing the news of the blast from Blackpool’s Kaos bar. Left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, they hope to be given some of the mementos salvaged by workers.
In the hours after the explosion, which made headlines around the country as displaced residents took up refuge in the homes of good Samaritans – and some literally inside the nearby Samaritans buildings, it was feared the homes either side of the blast were also too unstable to survive.
They were damaged, with Tony Wheeler trapped inside his flat after a ceiling joist fell, pinning him to his couch until he too could be freed by rescue workers, but continue to now stand tall amid the devastation between them.
Hard-hat clad staff from Premier Scaffolding stood inspecting the damage in what used to be a tiled kitchen, while the picture of a cherub on the wall once a home away gazed in their direction.
Holes in the sides of number 19 and 23 could be easily seen for the first time, visible scars left by the blast as it tore through the home in a matter of milliseconds at exactly 5.57pm and 33 seconds. And the multitude of colours, wallpapers of rooms once filled with laughter and chatter, shone out in contrast to the bleak colours of mortar ground to dust by the wheels of industrial machinery.
A parrot was the sole victim of the disaster, with two cats escaping with eight lives still intact.
And if the pictures that came out in the blast’s immediate aftermath were powerful, the ones taken from the now empty plot are poignant, and will stand as a lasting reminder of what the human cost could easily have been.