Birmingham explosion: 'Heroic' community praised

  • Published
Kathleen Queen and Emma Core
Image caption,
Kathleen Queen and Emma Core, respectively manager and assistant manager at the Kingstanding Inn, helped to provide shelter

Firefighters have praised the "heroic" efforts of the public at the scene of a gas explosion where a woman was found dead and a man seriously hurt.

The blast hit the Kingstanding area of Birmingham shortly after 20:30 BST on Sunday, destroying one house and damaging six others.

Evacuations saw 21 people forced to leave properties as flames erupted on Dulwich Road.

Residents reported people entering the devastation to pull a man from rubble.

A rescuer said: "The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us. We managed to get to him and pull him out - I still have his blood on my jeans."

People at a nearby pub were also among those to lend support.

Image caption,
The gas explosion left devastation in its wake, with debris scattered across the street

Referring to the badly-hurt man, Martin Ward-White, area commander for West Midlands Fire Service, told a press conference: "When fire crews turned up, police and members of the public had already started to mount a rescue of the individual."

Describing the actions as "heroic", he said: "The community has been great not just in the aftermath but overnight as well in supporting us."

Local councillor Rick Payne said: "There is community spirit, everyone wanted to help."

Keira Parkinson said her partner was one of a group of about 10 people who ran into burning debris to try to save those among it.

She added: "It is a day of sadness, just a complete tragedy but we are so proud of literally every single person that risked their lives to go in there and help somebody else."

Image caption,
Keira Parkinson said her partner rushed to help save a person hurt amid the rubble

Lami Charlery, whose home was damaged in the blast, said he nevertheless ran to join the rescue efforts.

"I heard a man say 'help' but we didn't know where it was coming from," he said.

"We ran in there and tried to get him out but because it felt like it was going to blow we had to run back out. Luckily some people did stay and help to get him out."

Image caption,
"I heard a man say 'help' but we didn't know where it was coming from," said Lami Charlery

Also offering support were workers at nearby pub the Kingstanding Inn, where assistant manager Emma Core told BBC Radio WM: "I just welcomed people to put them up as obviously they had no home."

Describing Sunday evening as "horrible" and "tragic", she added: "I made them comfortable - sandwiches, hot drinks - basically trying to... [offer] somewhere to sleep for the night, trying to sort them out with their needs.

"I just needed to keep these people safe and warm, keep them calm, and reassure them that they are lucky to be here."

Kathleen Queen, the pub's manager, praised her "brilliant staff" for "going straight into support mode".

She said of those arriving at the premises after the blast: "Some were in so much shock, they just couldn't speak."

Image caption,
Kashif Mahmood's family were among those to be offered assistance by other members of the public

The assistance also included a neighbour who tended to the young children of a man whose car was damaged by the blast's impact as he drove past with his family.

Calling the experience "shocking and scary", Kashif Mahmood explained: "My car was hit and all the airbags, windows, roof were broken. All my kids were crying."

He explained he then saw a "whole house on fire", adding: "I just left the car there and one of the neighbours took my kids inside and gave them water."

Image caption,
Mr Mahmood's car was damaged while driving past the explosion

An investigation to determine the cause of the explosion was under way, the fire service said.

The badly-hurt man was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, for treatment at its major trauma centre.

Image caption,
The community has rallied together to provide aid to displaced neighbours, with donations gathered at the Kingstanding Inn

Four other men suffered minor injuries and were discharged by paramedics.

The 21 people who had to leave their homes were staying at houses and hotels provided by Birmingham City Council, Mr Payne said.

Were you in the area? Did you witness the incident? If you feel able to do so please share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk. Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: newsonline.westmidlands@bbc.co.uk

Related Internet Links

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