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Death, Injury, shock and homelessness as a community come to terms with effects of lethal gas explosion.
Wednesday 10th August 2016 @ 17:43 by nigelpeditor

Fire Scene investigators were waiting for three houses badly damaged by a fire and blast to be made  structurally safe in order for them to commence their examination of the scene.
The early morning fire was followed shortly after by a devastating blast that shook the whole neighbourhood of Hurst in Ashton, killing one man and injuring nine others.
Greater Manchester Service Support Prevention Manager, Peter Buckley was keeping an open mind into the cause of the blaze that led to the explosion, speaking at the scene in Curzon Road, he said “From what I have seen of the premises itself, it is going to be a few days yet (before we can investigate).

“There needs to be stabilising work before investigators can go in, the structures have to made safe. I think it is going to a long job, carrying out an investigation and excavation at a fire can be a lengthy process.”
We asked Peter Buckley if older victorian terrace houses were particularly vulnerable to gas explosions due to old internal gas pipes and fittings made worse by the high density of the housing, which means that if a fire or explosion occurs in one house, adjoining houses are inevitably affected.
Fire officer Buckley did not feel that it was in fact a problem saying: I am not aware that this type of housing leads to a propensity of gas explosions.”

“There is a lot of old terrace housing in the North West but pipes carrying gas should be installed and maintained to a certain safety standard.”
As Fire Crews and construction workers toiled to make the damaged buildings safe, the spiritual and emotional needs of the community were being addressed by the local minister from Hurst Methodist Church, Karen Hillsdown who read from a prepared statement on behalf of the victim’s family saying:”We are all shocked and saddened by yesterdays explosion and the tragic death of John Wilson.

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who were affected by this tragedy especially the Wilson family, there will be a vigil held at the church between 6pm and 9pm tonight for members of the community to mourn and grieve together.”
“The minister added: “The wider community have all pulled together this is a close knit community, this is not a community that likes to make a fuss.” We are just trying to come to terms quietly with one another about what has happened.”

“There are no easy words or anything we can do to soothe the pain, but we can hold each other in love and try and help one another with the practical things.”
As the minster was speaking people who had been evacuated from the eight houses either side of the damaged buildings and in fact made homeless by the blast, were trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.
As the work to secure the burnt out shells of buildings went on all around them, families were allowed back into their houses accompanied by fire crews to salvage what possessions they could.

Many were relying on the kindness of relatives and friends for emergency accommodation and were no wiser as to when they might be able to return home.