Sunderland gas explosion survivor 'saved by fridge'

media captionThe moment the blast ripped through the house, flattening in seconds

A woman survived a gas blast which destroyed a house because a fridge fell on her, her sister has said.

Susan Shepherd was pulled from the rubble of her home in Rosslyn Avenue, Sunderland, following the explosion on Friday morning.

The semi-detached was flattened by the blast and a neighbouring property was heavily damaged.

Tracy Tia Judson said her sister, who is in her 50s, suffered minor burns and was able to talk to ambulance staff.

Writing on Facebook, Ms Judson said: "The fridge fell on top of her and saved her life, she's absolutely fine under the circumstances, she's got minor burns to her back, face and arms and her hip might need stitching."

Police, gas engineers, fire crews, paramedics and the air ambulance were all called to the scene just after 08:50 BST.

Search specialists with dogs were also there to make sure there were no trapped casualties.

Residents who had been evacuated have now been allowed home, Northumbria Police said.

image source, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
image captionOne house was destroyed and a neighbouring property severely damaged
image source, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
image captionThe fire service sent five engines and a search dog

Neighbour Tracey Pounder, 51, said: "I heard an almighty bang. I went upstairs and you could see dust rising.

"Half of the semi has gone and next door is wrecked. I came down to see what was happening and it is a complete shock."

Sean Hughes, 40, heard the explosion more than a mile away. He said: "I saw the window move and the house shook."

image source, Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
image captionMs Shepherd's sister said she was protected from debris after a fridge fell on her

Fire crews arriving at the scene took risks to enter the flattened property and did a "cracking job" assisted by ambulance crews, a senior officer said.

Bill Forster, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The walls of the building have collapsed and the upper sections of the building have come down and the lady was trapped beneath that rubble."

image captionResidents who had to leave their homes have been allowed back

Police said the blast was caused by a gas explosion.

A spokesman added: "It is now understood that the incident occurred as a result of a gas explosion and there was no third party involvement."

image source, Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service
image captionSpecialist search and rescue dogs were deployed at the scene

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