Belfast Telegraph

Terrifying moment man fled in flames after gas explosion destroyed his house in Bonds Street Derry

BY DONNA DEENEY

Eyewitnesses have described the terrifying moment a man fled his house in flames after the building was destroyed in a massive gas explosion.

Trevor McNeill (42) was rushed to hospital with severe burns to his face and hands.

He remains in a critical condition in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital after the devastating blast at his Londonderry home shortly after 10.30pm on Monday night.

His parents, Gloria and Thomas, visited their son in the aftermath and were deeply shocked at the extent of his injuries.

Mrs McNeill said: "He's burned badly in the face and the hands and we don't know about the internal (injuries).

"I didn't expect to see what I did see when I got in to the ward. It was really a shock. It wasn't Trevor."

Trevor's father, Thomas McNeill, added: "He is in a very bad state. We've also the possibility of internal injuries through the burning of his lungs and throat."

DUP councillor Drew Thompson said: "Some of the residents in the area heard the explosion and saw the gentleman coming out of the home on fire. They ran to his assistance and helped to put the flames out."

Among those caught up in the explosion was Christopher Robinson, a radio dispatcher from a taxi office two doors away from Mr McNeill's house.

"It was a quiet Monday night and all of a sudden there was an enormous explosion," he said.

"I ran straight out the door and Trevor McNeill's house seemed to be lying on the road.

"He came out a short time later and it was shocking to look at him.

"He was in a bad way. His skin seemed to be falling off him but other people in the street were helping him and they had already phoned the fire brigade and ambulance.

"For about 30 or 40 seconds, but maybe it only seemed like that maybe it was less, but there was a really, really strong smell of gas and a cylinder was lying in the middle of the road too.

"I just felt sick at the sight of Trevor and so helpless."

The extent of the damage done to Mr McNeill's Bonds Street home was still strewn across the road in the hours after the explosion.

Almost two thirds of the tiles are missing from the roof, the front door is missing and the windows are broken and blackened.

The street was filled with rubble, broken tiles and glass and a police cordon remained around the house yesterday while a structural engineer assessed the damage.

The building was so badly damaged it now appears unlikely Mr McNeill will be able to return home when he is discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was transferred after initial treatment at Altnagelvin.

Deputy Mayor of Londonderry Gary Middleton said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the seriously injured man and his family at this time following the gas explosion in Bonds Street."

'Gas explosion' victim in critical condition

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