A young child has died and four people have been injured after a suspected gas explosion in Lancashire.
The blast badly damaged three houses in Heysham, Lancashire, in the middle of the night, causing two to completely collapse.
Firefighters, police and ambulances were sent to Mallowdale Avenue at around 2.40am on Sunday (16 May) morning.
Lancashire Police have confirmed that the suspected gas explosion has killed a young child, while four others were injured, two of which have serious injuries.
In a statement on Twitter, the force said: “We remain at scene of a suspected gas explosion on Mallowdale Ave Heysham which has caused 2 houses to collapse & badly damaged another.
“Sadly, we can now confirm a young child has died & 4 other people have been injured, 2 seriously. Our thoughts are with all those affected.”
Nearby residents have been evacuated in the town some 25 miles north-east of Blackpool and a safety cordon has been put in place, Lancashire Police said.
People have been asked to avoid the entire area while police deal with the ongoing incident.
Police said in a statement earlier: “We are currently at the scene of a suspected gas explosion on Mallowdale Avenue, Heysham.
“We were called at 2.40am… to reports that a number of houses on the road had collapsed.
“Our officers are at the scene along with our colleagues from Lancashire Fire and Rescue and North West Ambulance Service.
“A safety cordon has been put in place and nearby residents have been evacuated.”
Lancashire Fire said on Twitter that 10 units were called to the street and firefighters were searching a collapsed property.
The fire service said: “A major incident has been declared after we (were) called to terraced houses on Mallowdale Avenue.
“It has been reported that there has been an explosion at a property and firefighters are searching the collapsed property.”
Local MP David Morris who represents Morecambe and Lunesdale, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of the families on Mallowdale Avenue following the incident this morning. Thank you to all of the emergency services who are currently on the scene.”
‘The whole house shook’
Dan Knowles, who lives four streets away from the explosion, said he had thought there had been an earthquake.
Describing the incident, he said: “My wife and I thought there was an earthquake which woke us, the whole house shook.
“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.”
The North West Ambulance Service tweeted that it had also sent units to the scene, with a priority to “ensure people receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible”.
The Service tweeted: “Following reports of an explosion on Mallowdale Avenue, #Heysham, we have resources at the scene and we are working with @LancashireFRS and @LancsPolice”.
Electricity North West described the scene as a ‘major incident’ and tweeted that it had paused electricity supplies to the area for safety reasons while the blast was being investigated.
The company could not confirm how many properties would be affected by the cut off, or for how long.