'I thought it was a bomb': Neighbours tell of shock after major gas explosion shook Blackpool street

Residents affected by the huge gas explosion that rocked a Blackpool street have told how they feared a bomb had gone off just yards from their homes.

Sunday, 24th September 2017, 1:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th September 2017, 1:45 pm
The scene of the gas explosion on Charles Street, in Blackpool
The scene of the gas explosion on Charles Street, in Blackpool

They praised those who helped with the mass evacuation of the area around Charles Street following the blast at around 5.55pm on Saturday.

That included the Salvation Army which took in around 80 people and gave them refreshments and blankets.

WATCH: Video from the scene of the explosionREAD MORE: Major gas explosion 'obliterated' property while elderly couple were insideTwo people were trapped in the rubble of the explosion and taken to hospital for treatment. The exact cause of the blast is under investigation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Debris from the blast was strewn across the alley at the back of the property

Police said the incident occurred at a guest house on the street although it is understood the three-storey terraced property is privately occupied.

Carol Malia, 62, and husband Lindsay, 60, who lives just fives doors away from the house where the blast occurred, had only just arrived home from the Lake District and were having a lie down when the blast occurred.

Lindsay said; "It is a miracle no one was killed.

"We were drifting off to sleep when there was a loud bang, followed by this incredible backdraught sound like thunder, and the bed shook.

Carol and Lindsay Malia, who live nearby, said it was 'miracle' nobody was killed in the blast

"I thought it was a bomb. I went to the window and saw that cars were still driving past Gorton Street just at the ends of our road, it was if nothing had happened.

"Then, within a couple of minutes , we heard shouting and screaming, and we quickly got dressed and went out into the street."

Mum-of-eight Carol said: "We saw that it was at the house where a couple called Martin and Pauline live had crumbled in, and someone was saying Pauline was in the kitchen and her legs were hurt.

"I heard some shouting, ‘my wife is in the kitchen’ several times, and people were outside shouting if they were okay.

Debris from the blast was strewn across the alley at the back of the property

"About an hour later we were told to go to the Salvation Army, around the corner. They were brilliant, I can’t praise them enough.

"We were there for several hours and didn’t get back here till late."

She said she was concerned over the couple who live in the house, whom she knew only as Martin and Pauline.

Another couple, Paul and Sarah Marks, live just three doors down from the explosion.

Carol and Lindsay Malia, who live nearby, said it was 'miracle' nobody was killed in the blast

Paul, 46, said: "You read about these things in the paper but you don’t think it’s going to happen in your street.

"We live in the ground floor flat, at the back. Sarah was in the kitchen, cooking, when we heard a loud bang.

"We thought it was kids messing about with fireworks, but when I looked out the back door I could see all this rubble lying there and water pouring out from somewhere.

"I knew it had been a gas explosion.The first thing I did was dial 999 and they told me to tell people not to go in the building."

Paul said he had noticed a smell of gas in the area since moving into the flat three weeks ago.

Another close neighbour, Woden Collins, 26, who lives just two doors away, said: "The noise sort of went ‘boom, boom’ and I thought it was a terrorist attack.

"It really shook the house and I didn’t dare move in case the ceiling came in."

Mr Collins said gas officials had been to his home in July to address concerns about the smell of gas.

Frankie Hearty, 24, who grew up on the street but now lives near Stanley Park, was shocked to receive a phone call from her taxi driver dad Shane Hearty, 74, who lives next-door to the property where the explosion occurred.

She said: "My dad told me he had been in bed, getting some rest, because he had a night shift later.

"He then there had been an explosion and asked if I could come and bring my partner, Rob.

"I came down as quickly as I could and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

"I’m just glad he was not hurt, the house next-door was completely blown up, there was rubble everywhere, ambulance, police and the fire brigade.

"Dad’s okay, he’s been through a lot in his life and he wasn’t too shaken up. He’s staying with us at the moment."

Another man said he lived at the house where the blast occurred - but he had missed the explosion because he had gone for a drink at a nearby pub.

The man, who did not wished to be named, said: "Someone came to get me in the pub and I came back here to see all this."

But the pensioner said he felt 'guilty' to have escaped the blast when others had been injured.

Blackpool Council staff were at the scene on Sunday morning, tidying up the street, which is still cordoned to traffic on either side.