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'Like a bomb going off': Sunderland house destroyed by gas explosion

The Guardian logo The Guardian 6 days ago Josh Halliday North of England correspondent
A house destroyed by a gas explosion in Sunderland: The house destroyed by a gas explosion in Sunderland. A neighbouring property was also damaged. © PA The house destroyed by a gas explosion in Sunderland. A neighbouring property was also damaged.

A huge gas explosion has destroyed a semi-detached house and badly damaged a neighbouring property in Sunderland.

Neighbours said the blast on Friday morning sounded like a bomb going off as it wrecked the building and sent debris flying in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope, to the south of the city.

North East ambulance service said firefighters had rescued one person, who had suffered burns and was taken to Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle. They were said to be in a serious but stable condition.

Cllr Alan Emerson, who lives two doors down from the house, said neighbours tried to enter the property after the explosion, but abandoned their attempts because of the smell of gas.

“It sounded like a bomb going off. It shook the entire house, it shook all the houses. I actually thought my roof had come down and when I went out to the back, there was debris everywhere – slates, tiles, you name it, everywhere,” he told the Guardian.

“I thought it was my roof, but when I came out I could hear people shouting, when I came out onto the street I realised straight away we had had an explosion. There was a house literally missing. People were trying to get in, but we had to get out because we smelled gas everywhere.”

Emerson said a woman in her late 30s and her young child lived in the destroyed house. The nextdoor neighbours, whose house was seriously damaged, were believed to have been at work when the explosion happened, he said.

Emerson, who has lived in the area for nearly 40 years, said a front door from one of the houses had been blown across the road as the force of the blast smashed neighbours’ windows.

“One half of a semi is entirely demolished and the other one is in a dangerous situation. There’s debris all over the street, people’s cars, people’s roofs, mine included,” he said.

“My car’s damaged and everybody’s cars around there is damaged. The front door from one of the houses is in the garden opposite me. I’ve lived here a long, long time and we’ve never had anything like this. It’s something you only see on TV once in a while.”

A North East air ambulance service spokeswoman said: “We were called to the Rosslyn Avenue area of Ryhope at 8.48am this morning. We dispatched our hazardous area response team (Hart) and two officers, and requested support from Great North air ambulance service (GNAAS).

“Working with our emergency service colleagues, we rescued and treated one patient suffering burns, who was in a serious but stable condition.

“We have taken the casualty to the Newcastle Royal Victoria infirmary by paramedic ambulance with the GNAAS doctor on board. Our Hart officers currently remain on scene to continue to support Northumbria police and Tyne and Wear fire.”

A 30-metre cordon was put in place around the property as police asked members of the public to stay away. A nearby community centre was open to support people affected by the explosion, police said.

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