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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:41 GMT
Explosion tests reveal broken pipe
Explosion scene
Residents were evacuated from their homes
Forensic tests into a gas explosion which destroyed three terrace houses have suggested it may have been caused by a fractured gas pipe.

The Health and Safety Executive has revealed that examinations carried out at Abercynon Road in Mountain Ash, south Wales, indicate that work being carried out on a pavement outside one of the houses could have damaged a gas service pipe.

Investigations have now been completed, but the executive says it cannot comment further because it is considering legal proceedings.

Scene explosion
A new gas supply was being installed

Contractor Mike Barlett, 34, was installing a new gas supply in the street when the blast happened in May 2000.

He caught fire and suffered extensive burns and chest injuries.

His injuries were so bad, he had to be treated at the specialist burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

One house was completely destroyed and several others were damaged. Three had to be demolished as a result of the blast.

'Man on fire'

A number of people - who had reported smelling gas in the area - were evacuated from neighbouring homes, as police, fire crews and gas company staff moved in to the area.

Neighbour Julie Cartwright, 24, who lived a few doors away, said she ran into the street when she heard the explosion.

"I just came running out of the house and saw a man. People were just looking at him and he was on fire."

Describing how the man had a severe head wound, she added: "I ran back inside and got a tea towel and wrapped it round his head and made him lie down.

"I was trying to take his clothes off as they were burning to his skin."

A spokesman for Transco confirmed at the time that contractors had been putting in a new gas supply.

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30 May 00 | Wales
Blast homes to be demolished
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