Birstall explosion death: Hundreds of homes at risk, says coroner

Gas explosion at house Image copyright PA
Image caption Two homes were destroyed in the blast just after 07:30 GMT on December 2017

Hundreds of houses near one destroyed by a gas explosion could also be at risk, a coroner has warned.

Janet Jasper, 79, was killed when her house in Allington Drive, Birstall, Leicestershire, was demolished in the blast on 11 December 2017.

An inquest into her death heard the explosion was caused by broken underground pipework next door.

On Friday, the jury at Loughborough Coroner’s Court found her death was accidental due to an unintended act.

Coroner Tanyka Rawdon said she feared properties in the Allington Drive area were “at risk”, and she was “concerned about preventing further deaths”.

Ms Rawdon said she would write to all gas networks, the Health and Safety Executive and the Gas Safe Register to see what action could be taken.

Image caption Mr and Mrs Jasper had lived in their house for 56 years

Previously, the inquest heard Mrs Jasper was in bed at the time of the blast and became buried under rubble.

Her husband John, who was rescued by firefighters, told jurors he had smelt gas the day before and called out a Cadent engineer to inspect their house.

However engineer Gareth Beeston, said he could not detect any traces of gas, and did not check the neighbouring house, which was empty as the owner had died.

On the morning of the explosion, the dead man’s son, Roger Partridge, was at the house when he smelt gas and tried to find the source.

He told the court his last memory was lifting the glass hood of a cooker hob and then “being dazed… lying on the kitchen floor”.

Mr Partridge spent a month in hospital with a collapsed lung and burns to his hands and face.

Steve Critchlow, from the Health and Safety Executive, told the court he could not say how long the pipework had been damaged.

After the hearing, Mr Jasper said he was “pleased the coroner has taken the very important steps to prevent further deaths to hopefully prevent anything like this ever happening again”.

Image copyright East Midlands Ambulance Service
Image caption The jury heard the explosion was caused by damaged pipework next door to the Jaspers’ house

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