A heroic group of neighbours risked their lives by entering the burning remains of a house destroyed by a gas explosion to rescue a man.
The residents clambered over flaming debris, through dust and rubble to pull the man from the property alive.
He was rushed to hospital and is in a life-threatening condition following the blast in Kingstanding in north Birmingham.
One man, who declined to give his name, described how a group of around a 12, saw a way into the burning building and seized their moment.
‘Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in – so we went in the house, me and about a dozen others,’ he told PA News Agency.
‘There was a guy in the back (of the house), we could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen.
‘The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us.
‘We managed to get to him, and pull him out – I still have his blood on my jeans.
‘We got him out, he ended up coming out on a mattress. But he was saying there was a woman in the house.’
The rescuer said the man’s clothes had been ‘blown off’ and he was ‘covered in blood’ to such an extent ‘you couldn’t even see him’.
‘We just went straight through the (front) door, and I thought I went through the house’s door – but it was actually the next door house’s door, because the house door had been destroyed,’ he added.
‘We come out to the back, and then we could hear the man, geezer, screaming, and we dug him out.
‘He was in the kitchen, lying flat on the floor, with his back against a fridge or washing machine.
‘He was going “don’t pull me – my legs” and I said “mate, we’re going to have to take you out now”.
The group of rescuers broke damaged water pipes, amid the rubble, to try to douse their own clothes, to protect from the flames.
Standing at the police cordon, watching the emergency services working under powerful spotlights amid the devastation, the man added: ‘There’s nothing left of that house at all.
‘We went through the house – and that house is gone.’
West Midlands Police said officers were called just after 8.30pm on Sunday to the incident on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding.
One house has been destroyed and several others have been significantly damaged as well as nearby cars, the force said.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said people at the scene rescued a man from the destroyed house but he had ‘very significant injuries’ and was taken to hospital.
Four other men suffered minor injuries and were assessed by ambulance crews at the scene, WMAS added.
A spokesperson said: ‘A man was helped from the property by people at the scene but had suffered very serious injuries.
‘After assessment and treatment at the scene, he was taken on blue lights to the major trauma centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with the MERIT team travelling with the ambulance.
‘His condition on arrival at hospital was described as life threatening.’
Four other men were assessed by ambulance crews for minor conditions at the scene and were later discharged.
Birmingham Police tweeted that the West Midlands Fire Service believe it was a gas explosion and had taken over command of the incident.
A spokesperson from Cadent Gas said its personnel were at the site but it was ‘too early to speculate on the cause’ of the blast.
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