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Massive explosion rocks north Suffolk village

PUBLISHED: 11:59 24 December 2010 | UPDATED: 12:35 24 December 2010

Gas explosion and fire at Chapel Lane, Wrentham.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Gas explosion and fire at Chapel Lane, Wrentham. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2010

INVESTIGATIONS into a massive explosion, which rocked a north Suffolk village and left two women seriously injured, were continuing this afternoon.

The emergency services remain at the scene of the house blaze in Chapel Road, Wrentham, with police and the fire service starting investigations into the cause of this morning’s (Friday) devastating explosion.

A brave neighbour helped rescue two women from the burning building after a suspected gas explosion.

Witnesses described how it was “a miracle” the women - believed to be a mother and her daughter - had walked out of the “devastated” house.

Police this afternoon confirmed that “a 50-year-old woman and an 18-year-old woman” had been injured in the blaze, as they suffered severe burns and were taken to hospital.

The explosion tore the roof off the house and destroyed the upstairs bedrooms.

“The walls are completely blown out and the charred rubble is still smouldering,” an onlooker said.

Station manager Andy English of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the first crews on the scene were faced with a “very significant” blaze.

“The house was severely damaged and was involved in a very significant blaze,” he said. “The Wrentham crew were first on the scene but because of the repeated calls four other appliances were mobilised from Suffolk along with the aerial platform from Great Yarmouth,” he said.

The damage to the building was caused by a large explosion, which ripped through the roof and upper level walls.

Mr English said it was believed the damage was caused by a gas explosion.

Gas and electricity officials were at the scene and expected to be there for most of the day.

“There is a multi-agency team currently carrying out an investigation into the incident and the fire service will have a presence here for some considerable time,” said Mr English.

Although the fire was brought under control the damage to the building was so severe it is considered “unstable and unsafe”. Structural engineers were also part of the investigation team.

Police have blocked either end of Chapel Road and nearby residents are being asked to stay in their homes.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “Everyone here is still in shock and cannot believe what has happened.”

Relatives of the couple who were injured in the explosion also visited the scene but were too distressed to make any comment.

“A female neighbour assisted in getting a 50-year-old woman and an 18-year-old out of the property,” a police spokesman said.

The blaze spread to a neighbouring property - which was “not occupied,” according to police, and “both buildings are unsafe.”

“We were called at 7.42am this morning by a member of the public saying there had been an explosion in Wrentham and flames were shooting up in the air,” a police spokesman said.

“It was a house fire in Chapel Road, Wrentham, right opposite the fire station in Wrentham. “Two people and two dogs have been rescued.”

Crews from Wrentham, Southwold, three crews from Lowestoft South station, a Hydraulic Platform from Yarmouth and the Forward Control Vehicle from Beccles were all called out.

The road has been closed in both directions and initial calls suggested that the residents within the home had suffered severe burns.

One woman was initally flown to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital by air ambulance and the other, a teenager, was taken to the hospital by land ambulance. They are believed to be related.

The woman has suffered severe burns to her face, chest and arms and the teenage girl has burns to her arms and chest. “The 50-year-old was flown to Norfolk and Norwich, but after being assessed she was then flown to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford,” a spokesman said.

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