Devon

Two men hurt in Barnstaple house explosion

Scene of explosion in Barnstaple
Image caption The cause of the explosion is thought to be linked to gas cylinders

Two men injured in an explosion and fire in a house in north Devon have been airlifted to hospital.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to the explosion in Barnstaple at about 0430 GMT.

The explosion in Trinity Street was so powerful that debris was found in a town square nearly 1,000ft (305m) away.

The injured men were initially taken to North Devon District Hospital, but were transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

Walls blown out

The men underwent surgery at the hospital, which has a specialist burns and plastic surgery unit.

Their condition was not known, but they were to remain there, police said.

Walls were blown out and the roof blown off the house in the explosion.

Police said they deployed officers before any emergency calls came through because they heard the explosion from the town station.

A cordon was set up at the scene, nearby buildings were evacuated and people moved to safety.

Trinity Street, Litchdon Street and Higher Church Street in the town centre were closed for several hours.

'Scene of devastation'

Police said Trinity Street was to remain closed throughout the night, but Litchdon Street and Higher Church Street had reopened and residents were able to return to their properties.

Insp Tom Holmes of Devon and Cornwall Police said the street was a "scene of devastation".

He said: "The front of one building has been taken off, and the rear gardens of this property and others in Trinity Street are very badly affected."

Neighbour Clare Robertson said the house looked as if it was disintegrating as a result of the explosion.

She said: "There was fire and huge flames coming from all directions. It was like a house of cardboard falling down."

Fire examiners and police are investigating the cause of the explosion, but it is thought to be linked to gas cylinders.

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