York & North Yorkshire

Haxby house explosion: Investigation continues into cause

The scene in Haxby Image copyright Rob Varley
Image caption An explosion was heard at about 07:30 GMT on Friday

It could take several days to determine the exact cause of a large explosion which killed a man and destroyed a house in North Yorkshire, police said.

Officers believe the victim, named locally as Paul Wilmott, 63, was the resident of the detached property in Haxby, near York.

The cause is thought to be a gas blast and is being treated as an accident after initial inquiries.

About 12 nearby homes were also damaged in the explosion on Friday morning.

Northern Gas Networks said supplies were turned off to a number of the properties as a precaution.

Engineers are restoring gas to homes with no structural damage, a spokesman said.

Image copyright John Giles/PA
Image caption The blast caused significant damage to neighbouring properties

Insp Andy Haigh, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We're currently working with the fire service, the Health and Safety Executive and forensic experts to establish the cause of the incident, which will take several days.

"We have specially trained officers working with the family, and a number of residents are now returning to their homes."

Image caption The house was completely destroyed in the blast, with nearby homes also damaged

He added: "We also have put a number of patrols on in the area to reassure the public, as a number of homes are still empty."

Leeds Beckett University said Mr Wilmott worked for more than 30 years at the institution, most recently in its video production unit.

Vice-chancellor Peter Slee said: "We are very saddened to hear of his death and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."

Structural engineers continued to assess damage to neighbouring properties on the street.

Brian Smith, who lives three doors down, said: "We've got a bit of damage, but we've been very lucky considering the damage to other properties.

"It's a bit surreal really, I opened up the curtains this morning thinking it was just a dream. It's hard to take in."

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