Explosion destroys bungalow at Leverington, near Wisbech

Neighbours told how a bungalow was reduced to rubble by an explosion today.

The house in Leonard's Road blew up at 12.45am and the neighbours were forced to evacuate.

Hardly anything remained standing of the Roddons Housing Association property, after the explosion ripped through it when gas pipes appeared to have been interfered with. The bungalow had been empty for some time.

Neighbours were stunned when the blast woke them up at 1am and they rushed to help the couple living in the adjoining property.

Ian Gowler, known as Gus, and Mavis Stails, were helped from their home, which has also been damaged by the blast.

Mr Gowler said: 'I feel a little bit sick it's happened and helpless, too, as I can do nothing about it.

'I am just relieved that I and the missus didn't get hurt.'

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Neighbours were still outside their homes this morning having had precious little sleep.

'It was unbelievable really. We just rushed to help the woman because she had only recently come out of hospital,' said one.

'I dialled 999 and they asked me which service - I needed all three,' said Maz Gallon.

'The explosion shook the house and the noise was incredible. We were lucky - if that had gone off during the day when the children are about then someone could have been killed,' he added.

His partner Daisy Watts praised residents who rallied in the immediate aftermath.

'You hear people say it all the time, but you really don't expect it to happen in your street.

'The neighbours were brilliant - they were all making sure that everyone else was OK. They all put everyone else first,' she said.

The fire service had to return to the scene about half-an-hour after they left because the blaze broke out again.

Fire service incident commander Gary Reach said he was '99.9 per cent sure' that the explosion was as a result of metal theft.

'We have ruled out all the other possibilities,' he said.

Police confirmed they had received reports of copper piping being stolen from the house, which was being renovated. Officers believe the theft caused a gas leak, which caused the explosion.

Insp Robin Sissons, from Cambridgeshire police, said: 'This incident shows how dangerous stealing copper pipes from homes can be.

'This caused an explosion which obliterated the house and it is only sheer luck that the offender responsible, or the people living nearby, was not killed or seriously injured.

'I would also urge people who have properties under renovation to shut off their gas supply when the home is unoccupied.'

The bungalow is totally destroyed and neighbours Ian Gowler and Mavis Stails have been forced to move out.

Mr Gowler said: 'I feel a little bit sick it's happened and helpless, too, as I can do nothing about it.

'I am just relieved that I and the missus didn't get hurt.'

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue said: 'We got a call at 1.05am to reports of an explosion at a bungalow. two crews from Wisbech and two from march attended.

'The explosion destroyed the bungalow. Firefighters managed to stop the fire reaching the adjacent bungalow.'

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