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Last Updated: Wednesday January 09 2008 09:59 GMT

Inquiry after girl's blast death

The house where the explosion took place

Investigators are trying to find out what caused a gas explosion at a house in Devon in the south west of England, that killed a nine-year-old girl.

Stephanie Hammacott was walking to school with her mum when the blast happened just before 8am on Tuesday.

She was taken to hospital, but sadly died shortly afterwards. Her mum suffered cuts and bruises, but was ok.

A man walking by was also hurt, as well as two elderly people who lived in the house.

Neighbours said they heard a dull thud and saw fireballs and flames leaping into the sky.

Rubble was blown up to 15 metres away from the house.

Stephanie Hammacott
Stephanie's teachers said she was 'popular and caring'

Stephanie was trapped under the rubble, and loads of people tried to help get her out.

Counsellors were at her school on Tuesday to help look after the children who were upset about her death.

The teachers said she was a "popular and caring" pupil.

They said Stephanie had "brightened up the lives of children".

Boarded up

People living in 12 houses nearby were evacuated from their homes.

Their houses were boarded up, so one family is staying in a bed and breakfast, and the others with friends or family.

They will only be allowed home when the fire service and gas company say it is safe.

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