Castleford gas blast families ‘in limbo’

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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VICTIMS of a gas explosion are still living in limbo six days after the blast which wrecked six homes.

Bungling copper cable thieves are believed to have sparked the explosion after cutting down an overhead electricity line behind the six terraced houses on Rhodes Street, Castleford, in the early hours last Friday.

It is believed the cable being cut led to a power surge which burnt holes in gas pipes in one or more of the homes, causing a massive explosion which blasted holes in roofs and walls.

Firefighters have been praised for their life-saving work in speedily evacuating residents just minutes before the blast happened.

Crews were initially called to a string of small fires in the homes.

Wakefield Council workers removed masonry in imminent danger of falling at the weekend and the homes have been fenced off. But the buildings are still too dangerous for residents to return and it is still unclear if any will have to be demolished.

Rhodes Street resident Alan Johnson, 54, who was rescued from a first floor window by firefighters, was allowed a brief visit to his end terrace home to pick up bank cards and treasured photographs.

He said: “There is a lot of smoke and water damage and my living room floor has got holes in it. We are making do. We are thankful to be alive really. It could so easily have gone the other way.”

Mr Johnson added: “Apparently when the cable was cut it caused the power to go to earth through the properties.”

Other neighbours whose homes suffered more serious damage have not been allowed to return to retrieve possessions due to safety fears.

The incident happened less than a week after 16-year-old Ryan Woolams was killed after tampering with cable at a disused power station at Skelton Grange in Stourton, Leeds.

A 27-year-old Castleford man arrested on suspicion of cable theft by police investigating the Rhodes Street blast remains on bail pending further enquiries.

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