Oldham explosion: Jamie Heaton's parents praise 'amazing' boy

The parents of a two-year-old killed in an explosion in Greater Manchester have said their son was an "amazing" boy.

Jamie Heaton died in Tuesday's explosion in Buckley Street, Shaw, which also left 27-year-old neighbour Andrew Partington with serious burns.

His parents Michelle and Ken said: "Jamie was unique and amazing. We will miss everything about him."

Some residents have returned home after 175 houses were evacuated after the suspected gas blast.

A statement from Mr and Mrs Heaton, who visited the scene of the blast to see messages and flowers left in tribute to their son, said: "Our little man Jamie was a happy little boy, mischievous and full of life."

'Little smile'

The statement, read on their behalf by Det Ch Insp Pete Marsh, added: "Even though we only had a short time with Jamie, the time we had was special and his memory will live on through Jack and Jodie [his brother and sister] and everyone close to him.

"Over the last few days, we have been allowed some quality time with Jamie who looked so peaceful and perfect - we take comfort in the fact that he passed away quickly without much suffering.

"We have no doubt that he will be up to mischief, looking down on us with that little smile. We are going to miss our little man."

The couple said they had been "overwhelmed" with the support they had received and they thanked local people for their "kind words and gifts".

They added: "Our thoughts are also with our neighbours whose lives have been turned upside down over the last few days."

Nearly 40 homes in nearby Oak Street have been reoccupied, as well as the whole of Gordon Street.

Mr Partington remains unconscious and sedated at Wythenshawe Hospital, where he is being treated for serious burns.

Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Steve Heywood, said there had been no change in his condition and there might not be "for days or even weeks".

Image caption Jamie was watching TV when the explosion happened

He said: "The investigation continues - and it is a complex and difficult investigation.

"We will leave no stone unturned in trying to get to the truth of this matter."

He said it was "not a 9-5 operation" and told residents there would be a significant presence from the police and emergency services over the weekend.

Forensic examination of the scene was expected to be completed on Friday evening or Saturday morning, he added.

"Everything that was in the vicinity of that inner crime scene will be subject to that forensic examination," he said.

"It's like a jigsaw puzzle and we need to put that back together."

'Staggering generosity'

Mr Heywood said the thoughts of the police were with Jamie's family and the residents forced to move out of their homes after the explosion.

Janet Winterbourne, who has returned home after spending two days staying with relatives, said: "I'm just glad to be back, you miss your creature comforts really.

"Everything is where it should be, we've got gas on and electric but we've no water," she said.

"There are cracks in the bedroom ceiling but the roof is all right."

About a dozen businesses were shut out of their premises following the blast.

Lee Hewitt, owner of the motorcycle repair shop Bikes and Beyond, which was inside the police safety cordon in Milnrow Street, reopened on Thursday afternoon.

Image caption Two houses in Buckley Street were destroyed in the blast

"The glass is damaged in the front of the window, we're basically back in action but with certain restrictions with police signing things in and out," he said.

Chief executive of Oldham Council, Charlie Parker, said there were a number of properties in the immediate blast area which would have to be demolished.

Ten were seriously affected and others within the "inner cordon" would have to be assessed for structural damage, he added.

He said the council had been "swamped" by contributions for the victims of the blast and appealed for people to make financial donations instead to the Oldham Distress Fund via the council's website.

Councillor Jean Stretton said: "The generosity has been staggering. We now have more than enough clothes and equipment to meet immediate needs.

"We are asking those people still keen to donate to please consider making financial donations to the official Oldham Distress Fund. This is to help cover the inevitable hardship that many families are facing for some time to come."

A local man, who inspected a boiler in the house where the explosion happened, was freed on police bail on Thursday following his arrest on suspicion of manslaughter.

Greater Manchester Police said the man was held in London but his arrest was "only one line of inquiry".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites