Praise for gas blast rescuers

The aftermath of the gas explosion at Limefield flats in Scholes
The aftermath of the gas explosion at Limefield flats in Scholes

THREE heroes who rescued a man from a block of flats damaged by a gas explosion have been formally thanked for their bravery by the Mayor of Wigan.

Workmen Keith Dermott, John Eckersley and Gary Peete risked their own lives to rescue the resident from the top-floor flat in Scholes after it had been rocked by the gas explosion, which tore the roof off the block of flats.

The three heroes, who work as house clearance specialists for Mears Contractors, were forced to clear piles of rubble which had jammed shut the kitchen door before helping the man out of the wreckage of his kitchen to safety.

The strength of the blast blew out the flat’s windows and caused the walls to collapse around the shocked resident, who suffered burns to his arms and head.

The trio’s selflessness was recognised with a reception in the Mayor’s parlour at the Town Hall, where they were praised by Mayor of Wigan Coun Joy Birch, the Mayor’s Consort Albert Bradley, and Wigan and Leigh Housing Chief Executive Ashley Crumbley.

Mr Peete said: “We were clearing out the flats on the bottom floor when we heard the bang, and we heard a lot of commotion outside.

“John and Keith started going up the stairs because we weren’t sure if we had cleared out that flat, then John saw a man still in the flat and they went up while I phoned the fire brigade.

“I did think at one stage I could smell something and assumed it was gas, and John said he couldn’t believe we were still going up, but we didn’t really think about the risks until afterwards. John thought the blast would have opened it to the air and the gas would have gone.

“As soon as we saw him we knew we had to help.”

Mr Dermott added: “Because we were inside the flats, we couldn’t really see how bad the damage was until we got up there.

“It’s a great honour for us to know the Mayor appreciated what we have done. We just hope the man we helped makes a full recovery.”

The Mayor of Wigan, Coun Birch, said: “I would like to formally thank you on behalf of the council and the people of Wigan.

“What you did was an incredibly brave act. You didn’t think about the danger to yourselves and did what needed to be done before the emergency services arrived.”

Mr Crumbley said: “Most people would not have done what you did. To go into a building with the risk of an explosion which was badly damaged was just amazing.”

Phil Donnalley, Mears branch manager, said: “I think what they did was very brave when everybody’s natural instinct would be to run the other way, and the company is very proud of them.”