Emergency services sent to the scene of a gas explosion that ripped through a house in Burnleigh on Monday afternoon have been criticised for going to the wrong address.
Local police were first on the scene and immediately set up road blocks with diversion signs directing traffic away from the incident
When firefighters arrived at the property in Accrington Avenue they found part of the roof missing, windows blown out and the smell of gas filled the air..
A plume of acrid smoke billowed from an upstairs window reducing visibilility in the area to just a few yards
Fire crews using breathing aparatus and heavy fire-fighting equipment forced their way into the property only to be told the explosion had taken place several streets away in Accrington Road.
'It was total devastation, hard to image anybody surviving amongst all that rubble. I’ve been a firefighter for 17 years and I’ve never seen anything like it’ said fireman Steve Baker. ‘We had 12 engines at the scene but it was never going to be enough, so we had to send for back up.
Then we got the call telling us it was the wrong place.
But then this is Burnley and we’re only firemen, how are we supposed to tell’.
The occupants of the house, 8 students from Lancashire University had already been lowered from a top floor window on stretchers and were receiving emergency medical attention from air-ambulance paramedics but showed no signs of life and were pronounced dead at the scene.
'We tried everything - BLS, CPR, EMC, mouth to mouth but nothing worked, we were gutted’ said paramedic Becky Cooper ‘no question, they were clinically dead.
It wasn't until somebody walked by with a B&H and a pot noodle that they showed any signs of life. They didn't actually get up off the stretchers or speak to us but they were chatting to each other and playing poker on their mobiles so we guessed everything must have been all right’.
When firecrews eventually arrived at the house where the explosion had taken place they found neighbour 83 year old Elsie Potter had already been round in her wheelchair with a damp cloth and a bucket of sand and had everything under control.
As they were about to leave Accrington Road, the firefighters had another call on their radio.
'There was another emergency to attend to in a block of flats over in Worsthorn’ said Baker ‘but we couldn’t do anything about it until we had finished carrying the students back up stairs to bed on our stretchers.
And besides, Mrs. Potter has just made a fresh pot'.
Burnleigh is a fictional mill town in Lancashire and should not be confused with the real Burnley, also a fictional mill town in Lancashire.
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