Boy who died in suspected gas explosion ‘a beautiful little angel’

George Arthur Hinds was aged two years and 10 months.

Two-year-old George Hinds
Two-year-old George Hinds

A young child killed in a suspected gas explosion has been described as a “beautiful little angel” by his parents.

George Arthur Hinds, aged two years and 10 months, died while two other people are in a critical condition in hospital following the incident on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham, on Sunday morning.

Lancashire Police said they were called to the scene of the blast at about 2.40am and found two houses collapsed with serious damage to a third property.

George’s parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were also injured but not seriously, police said.

In a tribute to their son, they said: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.

“He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened.

“Our beautiful little angel grew his wings today.”

Police said two people remain in hospital with injuries described as critical.

Residents in Heysham described the noise of the blast as “like a bomb going off” with debris that covered nearby streets and fields.

Graphic locates Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham
(PA Graphics)

Speaking to reporters at the scene, Joe Edwards, Assistant Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, said: “Shortly after 2.40am this morning emergency services were called to residential properties following reports of a large explosion at the address.

“There is significant damage to the houses, at least two have been destroyed and a third is significantly damaged.

“As a consequence of that a number of people have been injured.

“Tragically a young child has been killed as a consequence of what has happened and the thoughts of myself and all the emergency services are with the family at what is a distressing time.

A young child died in the blast
A young child died in the blast (Danny Lawson/PA)

“The information as we know it is that there are four persons that have also been injured in the incident, two of which are seriously injured and two others who remain under medical assessment.”

Ben Norman, the Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said that fire crews remained at the scene and an investigation into the cause of the blast would be carried out “slowly and methodically”.

Lancaster City Council said that Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, in nearby Morecambe, was open as an evacuation centre for any residents who had been affected by the incident.

Resident Susan Faulkner, 74, who lives further down Mallowdale Avenue, said the blast was “like a bomb going off” and that she was still “shaken” by the incident.

“I woke up with this huge bang and I thought someone was breaking into my house,” she told the PA news agency.

“The sound really shook me, I’m still quite shaken by it. I’ve never experienced that before.

“It was like a bomb going off, it was that kind of impact.”

The blast destroyed three houses
The blast destroyed three houses (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ms Faulkner said that her own property and others in the immediate area had been damaged in the “devastating” explosion.

“It was quite a blast, I live quite a way down there and part of my side door was blown in, my next door neighbour’s plates were smashed,” she said.

“There’s been lots and lots of people and police around and everyone trying to help everybody else.

“There’s debris everywhere, all on the next streets and in the fields. I think there’s a bit on my roof as well.

“I’ve been very lucky. When I see what those poor souls have had happen to them, it’s devastating. I’m really sad for those people, it’s such a sad thing to happen to them.”

Dan Knowles, who lives four streets away from the explosion, said he thought there had been an earthquake.

Cars in the street were also damaged
Cars in the street were also damaged (Danny Lawson/PA)

“My wife and I thought there was an earthquake which woke us, the whole house shook,” he told the PA news agency.

“We immediately checked on our kids and got back in bed. We then heard sirens and my wife checked Facebook, when we found out that there’d been a gas explosion.

“We stayed indoors and switched everything off at the source and then sat up all night worrying.”

A GoFundMe page set up to help Mallowdale Avenue residents had reached more than £25,000 by 4.30pm on Sunday.

Heather Brandwood, who manages a pub in Morecambe, set up the fundraiser and told PA it was “humbling” to see the community pull together in such a way.

She said residents were queuing up in the car park of the Hurley Flyer pub to donate clothing and toiletries to evacuated residents.

Staff arrange donations at the Hurley Flyer pub in Morecambe
Staff arrange donations at the Hurley Flyer pub in Morecambe (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We are very conscious that people were evacuated from their homes with immediate effect. We have heard from an elderly couple who left in their pyjamas. There is a woman who is in literally nothing but her nightie,” she said.

“The general public has been fantastic, and they have risen to the challenge. There is a lot of goodwill in Morecambe.”

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said Home Secretary Priti Patel has offered her support and assistance to emergency services staff who worked on the incident.

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