"It was like a bomb had gone off" - neighbours tell of frantic attempts to save woman after Wigan house collapse

Neighbours on a Wigan street have told the heartbreaking tale of desperately trying to battle through the rubble of a collapsed house.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 11:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 4:54 pm

A woman died when part of a house on Old Lane in Shevington collapsed on Sunday afternoon.

Now residents living nearby have spoken of the tragedy and of the frantic attempts to save her.

They also said it took the emergency services some time to reach the scene.

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Police tape at the scene of the incident in Shevington

The incident happened just after 2pm on Sunday.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "We were just in the garden when we heard a massive crash.

"All we saw was smoke. It sounded like a gas bottle had exploded.

"We came out to the front and saw the gable end of the house had fallen.

The gable end of the house which collapsed

"We banged on the door. A number of neighbours were milling by now. We didn't think at this point anyone was there.

"Next thing the man who lives there turned up in his car. We asked where the lady who lived there was and he said she was in the house. That was when everything changed.

"I said to next door to call an ambulance. We went running in, shouting her name.

"We got to the back door and saw the amount of rubble. It was like a bomb had gone off.

"I tried to move some of the bricks but it was a waste of time. The rubble went up to about 10 feet at its highest point.

"We tried to prise open the wooden gate with a crowbar. We smashed the bolts locking it from the inside and there was a kind of void there."

Sadly the woman was found in the wreckage of the house and was later pronounced dead.

The neighbours paid tribute to her, saying: "They were a lovely couple. It was horrendous, so sad."

The neighbours also told of enduring an agonisingly long wait for the emergency services to turn up, although they said a massive operation was put into action when they arrived.

The neighbour said: "From the moment it happened to the first unmarked police car turning up was about 40 minutes.

"We were looking at 45 minutes for the fire engines. That was what we really wanted to clear the rubble.

"I know we rely on them and they do a really good job, and that we should praise them and we do, but why did it take 45 minutes?

"They worked really hard when they got here, especially in that heat.

"We had four fire engines, four or five ambulances, the air ambulance and goodness knows how many police cars.

"There were vehicles along the whole of Old Lane from beyond the crossing all the way down. They just cordoned the whole area off."

The neighbours also said concern had been raised previously about apparent bowing on the gable end of the house which collapsed.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said: “At 2.24pm on Sunday afternoon (18 July), GMFRS received a report that part of a house had collapsed at a home on Old Lane, Shevington, Wigan A few minutes later we received a further call that a person was missing and could be trapped under the rubble.

“A GMFRS officer arrived at the scene at 2.47pm, quickly followed by the first of three GMFRS appliances, where they found one person trapped and unresponsive. Firefighters dragged rubble from the partially collapsed building by hand to recover the trapped person before assisting North West Ambulance Service to treat the patient and prepare them for transport to Wigan Royal Infirmary.

“Crews worked in collaboration with colleagues from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and were at the scene for around two hours.”

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