Leeds & West Yorkshire

Castleford explosion: Copper cabling theft linked to incident

A theft of copper cabling may have caused a gas explosion which wrecked a row of houses in Castleford, a power company has said.

About 30 people were forced to leave their homes on Rhodes Street, Hightown, in the early hours of Friday.

A full investigation into the cause of the blast is under way. Two fire officers suffered minor injuries.

The incident comes days after a boy died during a suspected metal theft from a sub-station in Leeds.

CE Electric has issued a strong warning on the danger of metal thefts.

It said: "Copper theft continues to blight our network and, despite the recent fatality in Leeds, these incidents continue to occur at an average of four every day.

"We cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to tamper with electrical equipment on the network.

"We are pleading with these thieves to think about the consequences of their actions and how much they are personally risking for such a small return."

Homes evacuated

Initially the West Yorkshire Fire Service was met with a string of small fires after receiving a call shortly before 0130 BST.

Residents were moved from their homes and ladders were used to remove two people from upstairs bedrooms.

Shortly afterwards an explosion tore through the row of terraced homes.

One property was almost demolished, and five others suffered extensive fire and blast damage, the fire service said.

Station manager Mark Allen said: "The firefighters did a fantastic job of rescuing residents so quickly, and it was their skill and training which told them they should withdraw."

Electricity and gas supplies were cut off in nearby homes. Engineers from CE Electric and Northern Gas Networks are working to restore supplies.

Gas supplies in the surrounding area are unaffected and the area is safe, Northern Gas Networks said.

'Lucky escape'

Local resident Darren Taylor said people had a lucky escape: "It felt like I'd jumped off the floor a few inches.

"It was amazing how they all got out safely and no-one got hurt. It could have been a lot worse."

Wakefield Council is working with emergency services and helping those removed from their homes.

One family is being looked after by social services, while a further 36 people are staying with relatives and friends.

Leader of the council, Councillor Peter Box, said: "The council responded in line with our emergency plans and we are doing all are can to support people affected and to make sure the buildings are made safe."

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