Major incident declared after child killed and four injured in suspected gas explosion in Heysham
Emergency services at the scene of a suspected gas explosion in Heysham have spoken about the 'major' incident.
Assistant Chief Constable, Jo Edwards said: "Shortly after 2.40am this morning emergency services were called to a residential properties following a report of a large explosion at the address. There was significant damage to the houses , at least two have been destroyed and further houses damaged.
"As a consequence of that a number of people have been injured and tragically a young child has been killed.
"My thoughts of myself and all the emergency services are with the family at this distressing time.
"Our thoughts are also with those individuals who have been affected by this incident.
"There were four people who have also been injured, two of which are seriously injured and two remain under assessment.
"There is a multi-agency response in place. At the moment we are in a search and rescue phase and officers across all the agencies are working hard to make the area safe. That work will continue throughout the day after which we will give further information.
"We are still working on the cause of the blast. Our initial thoughts are it's some sort of gas explosion.
"The search and rescue stage is still ongoing and we are hopeful we have found those people who were injured or sadly deceased as a consequence.
"There is significant damage to the property and we are making sure the area is safe but also want to understand what has happened.
"We will be working across the agencies to give regular updates. I suspect we will be here for some time."
Matt House, consultant paramedic with North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said: "I've seen an awful lot in my 20 years of service but I haven't particularly seen an explosion like this.
"As we declared a major incident early on we sent six ambulances, an advanced paramedic, a hazard area response team and four doctors attended.
"We have protocols in place for major incidents to ensure we have the maximum attendance at the scene without impacting the local community who also need our help.
"There were five casualties and unfortunately there was a child declared dead at the hospital.
"Of the other four casualties, there were two with serious injuries and two with minor injuries."
Ben Norman, assistant chief fire officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS), said: "We are not forecasting further risk to further properties and we are not considering there is risk that remains beyond the cordon where the search and rescue operation continues.
"At it's peak in the region of 80 fire officers were at the scene and we have now focused on more dedicated and specialist resources.
"We send the nearest assets to any incident, there were two fire engines from Cumbria and eight from Lancashire.
"We will take a significant period of time. It's very very difficult working conditions and we have now got to do that in a safe manner for all the emergency service workers who took great risk this morning across all the blue light agencies putting themselves in a precarious position adjacent to what is a very very vulnerable structure that remains.
"Now we can move more into slow time and ensure that the investigation is completed effectively.
"It's an untold impact on staff. There will be an impact today, some of those are staff who respond from home or a workplace, they are on call firefighters.
"They go back into the community, they haven't mobilised to it, they live within it, they work within it, their families are within it and that is extended to all the blue light services, they don't separate from the local community and so they have responded throughout their career however long that is and that has a cumulative effect on attending incidents like this.
"But we are pleased we have moved to a position where support for our staff particularly their mental health has been something that we have treated with the utmost priority for quite some time and clearly we will then prioritise looking after those staff who today bravely put themselves in harm's way to try and create the very best outcome they could and tragically that wasn't the outcome that so many of us wanted today.
"So now we've got to deal with that loss as the family has and the family is at the forefront of our minds."
Salt Ayre Leisure Centre is currently open as an evacuation centre for any residents who have been affected by this morning's tragic incident in Heysham.
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