Heysham gas explosion: Parents’ heartbreaking tribute to ‘beautiful little angel’, 2, killed in explosion

THE parents of a toddler who was killed in a suspected gas explosion have paid tribute to their “beautiful little angel”.

Two-year-old George Hinds died in the overnight blast in Heysham, Lancs, which left four others – including both his parents – in hospital.

Lancashire Police said they were called to the explosion at 2.40am after reports that “a number” of houses on Mallowdale Avenue had collapsed.

Two terraced houses were reduced to rubble and heartbreaking images showed children’s toys lying in the debris.

George’s mum and dad, Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds, said in a statement released by cops: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.

“He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened.

“Our beautiful little angel grew his wings today.”

Two other people – a man and a woman – remain in hospital with injuries described as critical.

A third property was also badly damaged.

Residents on the quiet street in Heysham, Lancs, had been sound asleep when they were suddenly woken at 2.40am on Sunday.

One neighbour compared it to an “earthquake” and another said the destruction was like the “aftermath of the Blitz”.


Some reported hearing the blast as far away as Lancaster – nine miles from the scene.

Around 80 firefighters and 10 fire engines attended as the road was closed and homes evacuated after a major incident was declared.

‘UTTER DEVASTATION’

Barmaid Emilie Downie, 18, told The Sun Online: “The noise was incredible – like an earthquake.

“Steve next door was in the street in a state of shock. There was blood on his nose.

“His wife was trapped in a wardrobe and the house was only being held up by a beam.

“The firemen managed to get her out. It is terrible and so sad that the little boy has lost his life. It’s devastating.”

Neighbour Rachel Smith, 42, added: “It sounded like a bomb had gone off.

“I was woken by this huge bang. It was a big shock and it’s devastating that a child has died.”

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “I was woken by this huge bang.

“My bed shook – it was very scary. I looked out and it looked like utter devastation.”

A Gofundme page set up to help Mallowdale Avenue residents had reached more than £23,000 in just a few hours.

Heather Brandwood, manager of two pubs in nearby Morecambe, Lancs, set up the fundraiser and said it was “humbling” to see the community pull together in such a way.

She said people were donating clothes and toiletries to evacuated residents.

Heather added: “We are very conscious that people were evacuated from their homes with immediate effect.

“We have heard from an elderly couple who left in their pyjamas.

“There’s a woman who is in literally nothing but her nightie.”

Rachel Smith, 42, said: “There was rubble everywhere. Bricks and roof tiles were strewn across streets around 300 yards away.”

Another resident said: “It’s an absolute mess, it’s like the aftermath of the Blitz.”

 

Grandma Sue Holt, 61, said: “It was terrifying.

“My bed shook – I thought it was going to go through the floor.

“The house shook with the bang. It’s shocking. I feel sorry for the families. My heart breaks for them.”

And Dan Knowles, who lives four streets away from the explosion, said he thought there had been an earthquake.

 

“My wife and I thought there was an earthquake which woke us, the whole house shook,” he told the PA news agency.

“We immediately checked on our kids and got back in bed. We then heard sirens and my wife checked Facebook, when we found out that there’d been a gas explosion.

“We stayed indoors and switched everything off at the source and then sat up all night worrying.”

 

My wife and I thought there was an earthquake which woke us, the whole house shook.

Dan KnowlesLocal Resident

Scott Lancaster had been reading the news and jumped out of his seat when the explosion happened.

 

“It sounded like when you are at a firework display and the final rocket always lets off the biggest loud bang,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis, 58, was asleep in his caravan at the time.

“It was like a minor earthquake,” he said. “From what we gather it’s taken two or three houses with it.

“We live a quarter of a mile away and it shook our caravan – we thought something had hit it.

 

“We’ve got our little granddaughters staying overnight. We didn’t know what it was.”

Lancashire Fire said 10 units were called to a row of homes in the area at around 2.30am and that firefighters were searching a collapsed property.

They later said in a statement: “Two fire engines, the urban search and rescue unit, search and rescue dogs and the air support unit remain at the incident.

“Search operations continue and we are working with partners to make the area safe and investigate the cause of the explosion.”

Local MP David Morris, who represents Morecambe and Lunesdale, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of the families on Mallowdale Avenue following the incident this morning.

“Thank you to all of the emergency services who are currently on the scene.”

The North West Ambulance Service said they sent “multiple resources” to the incident, including six ambulances, an advanced paramedic, four doctors and two on-scene commanders.

They said in a statement: “We treated five casualties at the scene.

“Four people were taken to hospital, two with serious injuries, and sadly a young child has died as a result of the incident.

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