Essex

Clacton gas blast: Six rescued from collapsed house

Six people have been rescued from an Essex house which collapsed in what is thought to have been a gas explosion.

Firefighters were called to the property in Wellesley Road, Clacton, just before 02:30 BST.

A woman was rescued from the building and a man was found in the rubble. Police at the scene rescued a further four people from the roof area.

All were treated for injuries and a woman suffered serious burns. A hamster was also found alive in the rubble.

The pet was found in its cage, said Essex Fire Service.

A fire service spokesman said all residents had been accounted for.

About 60 people have been evacuated from nearby properties and the road has been closed.

Station officer Martin Hare, from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We believe there has been a gas explosion which has caused substantial collapse in a house which has been converted into flats."

Firefighter Neil Holloway said: "When crews arrived they were faced with a house which had almost totally collapsed.

Rescue dog

"Four people had been led to safety and a woman was quickly rescued from the rear of the building.

"The urban search-and-rescue team quickly located a man trapped in the rubble. It is extremely lucky that no-one has died.

Image caption The explosion caused substantial damage

"The fire is under the rubble and is proving hard to get to so I expect firefighting operations will continue for several hours."

Rescue dog Kirby, who qualified only last Thursday, found the man trapped under the rubble.

His handler Graham Currie said: "It took him less than a minute to locate the man and we were able to speak to him."

Resident Richard Williams, who was evacuated from his home nearby, said: "I saw a flash and then a big bang. It rattled the house.

"I heard kids and people crying 'help me' but no-one could do anything because of the smoke and the smell of gas.

"When I heard it, I thought it was a car crash or something like that, but when I came out here it was a disaster."

A structural engineer who assessed the building said the adjoining property was unstable.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: "Six people were brought to Colchester General Hospital. Two were discharged this morning, and three remain at the hospital in a stable condition.

"One woman has been transferred to the burns and plastics unit at Broomfield Hospital."

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