Flintshire family move back into home after gas explosion

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A FAMILY whose home was destroyed by a gas explosion have finally been allowed to move back into their house.

Pensioners Derek and Margaret Roberts and their son David, 42, of Stanley Street, Mold, are still suffering the effects of the terrifying blast that blew their home to pieces in 2008.

After 18 months of living in hotels and rented accommodation, the family say they are relieved to be home.

Speaking to the Leader for the first time since they got the keys, Margaret said: “It’s a funny feeling but we’re getting used to it day by day.

“The whole house has been transformed and rebuilt. Doors are in places where there didn’t used to be doors. I still think to myself  ‘did it really happen’?”

The family were at home on the morning of December 1, 2008 when David lit a cigarette sparking a massive explosion that blew out the windows and doors and brought the house crashing down around them.

David, who was engulfed in flames, dug himself out of the rubble while his parents managed to scramble out.

Moments before the blast, which was caused by a gas leak, Derek, 66, had got out of his chair while Margaret, 63, who was emptying the bins, decided not to take the rubbish out until later – actions they believe saved their lives.

“If I had been in that chair, I would have had 300 bricks on me,” said Derek. “I was blasted to the couch and I had glass in my back. The chair went on fire.

“The roof was lifted up by about six inches and dropped back down. All I could hear was David shouting ‘I’m on fire’.

“We all got out and ran across the road where we put David in a bath.”

The family still bear physical and emotional scars from their ordeal.

Window cleaner David suffered severe burns to his hands and has only recently returned to work.

Derek and Margaret also suffered severe hearing loss.

“David is still having counselling and medication,” said Derek. “We are all still on medication.”

Maria Price-Jones, from UK Investment Lettings in Mold, helped to re-house the family.

She said: “They have been brilliant tenants and it will be a shame to lose them. But this house has been made lovely and I’m sure they will be very happy here.”

The family thanked Mold Broncoed councillor Haydn Bateman for his support and offered special thanks to Don Norris from Flintshire Council’s emergency planning team, highways supervisor Fraser Roberts and the authority’s housing department.

Cllr Bateman said he was grateful for the neighbours’ patience.

“They have had to put up with a lot,” he said. “But nobody complained and they were very considerate. The neighbours have been great.”

Derek added: “It’s been a long haul but we’re glad to be back.”

See full story in the Leader

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