Video and Photo gallery: Neighbours beaten back by flames after Littleport house explosion
- Credit: Archant
Detectives will today sift the charred wreckage of a house in a bid to find out whether anyone was inside when it exploded and burst into flames yesterday.
Two heroic neighbours told how they broke down the doors of the home in Kingsmead Court, Littleport after hearing a loud bang at 11.50am in a desperate attempt to see if there was anyone inside.
As nearby Victoria Street became engulfed in thick, black smoke, David Loosley and Samuel Northcote smashed the front door and the garden gate in a bid to get inside.
However, they were beaten back by the flames as tiles came flying off the roof of the property and the ceiling collapsed inside.
'We didn't know if anyone was in there,' said Mr Northcote, 26.
You may also want to watch:
'I came down here and it was just blazing. The whole street was covered in smoke. As we smashed the window on the front door, the ceiling just came down.'
Mr Loosley, who had been working on a classic car in his garage when he heard the explosion, added: 'We attempted to get in but we couldn't because it was just so hot.
- 1 Body found in search for missing 87-year-old Margaret Smith
- 2 'I can't carry it' - Shock as plant starts growing eight inches a day
- 3 Aldi planning four new stores in Norfolk
- 4 Norfolk man who had sexual relationship with teen jailed
- 5 Two Norfolk businesses star in TV show
- 6 WATCH: 'Selfish' drug-driver ploughs into police detective's vehicle
- 7 Fly-tipper travelled from Welsh border to dump in Norfolk
- 8 Funeral held for much loved windsurfer after body found in Sweden
- 9 Potential for 30C today – but two days of thunderstorms on the way
- 10 New 170-place school likely to get go-ahead
'We actually smashed the front door down and broke the back gate but we couldn't get into the lounge. It was just an inferno.
'It was so intense. Tiles were coming off the roof and the top window blew out. It was all over the house. It was a phenomenal sight.
'What caused the explosion, we don't know. We think there was a couple living there but we were not sure if they were inside.
'I just did what anyone else would do. I tried and I did what I could but it was an inferno.'
Firefighters from Littleport, Ely and Sutton attended the incident and used an extra-high ladder to help them fight the blaze.
Having extinguished the majority of the fire, they then called on assistance from the Norfolk Urban Search and Rescue team to help make the structure of the house stable enough for crews to continue their work.
Once that was done, they were able to go inside and damp down remaining hot spots.
The fire was out completely by 7.05pm – more than seven hours after the explosion. It totally destroyed the roof of the house.
Multiple police vehicles remained on the scene, including a mobile police office. Residents said ambulances remained until about 4pm.
Detective Inspector Adam Gallop said last night: 'We haven't been able to conduct a thorough search of the house and therefore can't confirm if anyone was in it.'
Raymond Peacock, 75, whose Victoria Street home backs on to the house, said he heard the occupants of the property talking in the garden area moments before the explosion.
It is thought by neighbours that an elderly couple were living in the house at the time.
'We were out digging a hole right near to the fence and we heard them out there,' he said. 'The next minute, we heard a big bang – an explosion. Within seconds, the conservatory just went up in the air.
'A few seconds later, the whole house was on fire. I can't understand how a house can burn so quickly.
'We were terrified. We had to shut all our windows because of the smoke. I went out to my neighbour and he rang the fire brigade.
'Black smoke covered the street and it came over us for a little while. It was terrible, thick smoke.
'It is something we have never experienced in our lives before. It was terrible.'
Clive Webber, 53, who lives in Victoria Street, opposite the Kingsmead Court property, added: 'It was such a big explosion it rattled the windows of my house.
'It was quite frightening to see how a modern house can burn like an inferno. All the windows were blown out and flames were coming through the roof. It was quite a dramatic scene. It was unreal – you just couldn't believe what you were seeing.
'Two of the neighbours attempted to go in but it was an absolute inferno. You couldn't get anywhere close to it. No one was going to be able to do anything in there – it needed professional help.
'The fire service were absolutely stunning. It was impressive how quick and effective they were.'
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue said a fire investigation into the cause of the blaze was under way.