Pictured: Woman, 79, who died in huge gas explosion is named
Pictured: Woman who died in huge gas explosion is named with neighbours paying tribute to ’79-year-old mother with a heart of pure gold’ – as her partner who was pulled from the wreckage by hero bystanders fights for his life in hospital
- Doreen Rees-Bibb, 79, a mother with a ‘heart of pure gold’ died while partner David Murphy is still in hospital
- Emergency services scrambled to Dulwich Road just after 8.30pm on Sunday night after a number of calls
- One house has been destroyed and several others have been significantly damaged as well as nearby cars
- A man with ‘very significant injuries’ was rescued from the house and taken to hospital, police said
- Fire chiefs then confirmed this morning that a woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze
A woman who died in a huge gas explosion has been named as a 79-year-old mother with a ‘heart of pure gold’ as her partner fights for his life in hospital.
Doreen Rees-Bibb did not survive the blaze which reduced her home to rubble and left her buried under several feet of debris.
An unnamed family member told the Sun that Doreen was ‘the life and soul of the party’ who was ‘full of warmth and love, and she had a heart of pure gold’.
Her family also said she was ‘really happy’ with her partner David Murphy who was pulled from their home on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, by brave locals after it went up in flames last night – also damaging neighbouring properties and cars in the process.
Josh Turner, who lives opposite, told MailOnline: ‘There was a huge explosion – I thought a bomb had gone off. I went outside and there were flames leaping into the sky. It was unreal. People were rushing towards the house to try to help.
‘They found Dave in the back garden. He was covered in burns and all his clothes had been blown off. They put him on a mattress and carried him out. His missus Doreen was stuck in the house.’
David Murphy’s children Kate and Dean today confirmed their father had been a victim of the explosion – an incident emergency services admit will take several days to fully investigate.
His son said: ‘Yes, my dad was in the explosion. He’s in hospital. and he’s not in a good way. But he survived. Sadly, the lady didn’t. I’m on my way to the hospital now.’
Daughter Kate added: ‘My dad was in the explosion but I don’t want to talk about it.’
It comes as it emerged today that estate agents warned just weeks ago that the boiler needed replacing at the three-bedroom house.
The property was recently listed for sale by Birmingham-based Paul Carr Estate Agents for £160,000. It is not clear if a sale has been agreed but aerial pictures show a red ‘sold’ sign in the rubble.
On the firm’s website, the property’s particulars states: ‘Boiler requires repair / replacement.’
When asked by MailOnline for details on the sale and the boiler, a spokesperson for the company declined to comment.
Area commander Alex Chapland, of West Midlands Fire Service, giving an update on the investigation, said a multi-agency inquiry was now under way ‘to understand exactly how this has taken place’.
He added: ‘We have searched the properties we can get into. We have liaised and spoken to all of the occupants of all the different properties. We’re not expecting to find anybody else in there, but until we have fully searched the area we can’t say with absolute certainty.’
Asked about reports the house had been up for sale and that the boiler had needed replacing, Mr Shapland said: ‘That may form part of the investigation. As I say, we’ve got colleagues and professionals who will be looking at all of the different circumstances.’
Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan, of West Midlands Police, said the force was supporting the fire brigade’s investigation and there were no suspicious circumstances ‘at this stage’.
Tributes have been paid to Doreen Rees-Bibb, pictured, 79, who died in a house explosion in Birmingham last night when the blast tore through the property – leaving her buried under several feet of rubble
A house which was destroyed in a gas explosion in Birmingham last night leaving a woman dead and a man fighting for his life had a dodgy boiler, it emerged today
Emergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, where an explosion on Sunday destroyed a house
The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, where a woman has died after an explosion destroyed a house on Sunday
Another angle of the explosion in Kingstanding shows the home completely destroyed as well as huge damage caused to the neighbouring houses
Callum Attwood (pictured) has revealed the moment he and a group of locals bravely charged into the burning house in a desperate bid to rescue those inside
The family member who named Doreen added that her loved ones are ‘very distraught’.
‘She was almost 80 but she was still full of life,’ they told the Sun. ‘She was really happy with Dave. We don’t know what’s happened, if there was a gas leak or some kind of fault. We are just waiting for answers.’
Ch Insp Ms Monaghan added: ‘There is one fatality, there’s also one male critically ill in hospital at the moment, and I can confirm that that’s the condition at the minute – it is critical.’
She said officers were in the process of contacting relatives of the male and female, but were unable to release their identities at this stage.
David’s niece Terri Ann Noble from Stockton-on-Tees, said: ‘David is a lovely man, he’s so funny and he’ll do anything for anybody.
The 42-year-old mother added: ‘His children Dean and Kate will be going through hell right now, they absolutely adore him, they love him to bits.
‘He hasn’t been the same since my Auntie Lynn died from breast cancer a few years back and it’s just awful that he’s going through this right now. We’re all hoping he’s okay and pulls through.’
Speaking as urban search and rescue specialists were preparing to sift the rubble, Ms Monaghan also praised the ‘heroic’ actions of residents who rushed into the burning rubble and dragged the injured man out.
‘I would just like to say a huge thank you – there was some really heroic actions from members of the community last night,’ she added.
Witnesses said there were around a dozen fearless members of the public who dug through rubble to rescue Mr Murphy.
Kiera Parkinson, whose boyfriend Callum Attwood was among those who helped at the scene in Birmingham, said: ‘We’re so proud of literally every single person that risked their lives to go in there and help somebody else.’
The casualty is in a life-threatening condition in hospital.
Residents said they clambered past flaming debris and through dust and rubble shortly after the blast to pull the injured man alive from the ruins of the property, on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding.
One of the Good Samaritans, who declined to give his name, said: ‘Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in.
‘So we went in the house, me and about a dozen others. There was a guy in the back. We could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen.
‘The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us. We managed to get to him and pull him out – I still have his blood on my jeans. He ended up coming out on a mattress, but he was saying there was a woman in the house.’
The rescuer said: ‘His clothes had been blown off. You couldn’t even see him, he was covered in blood. We could hear the man, geezer, screaming, and we dug him out.
‘He was in the kitchen, lying flat on the floor, with his back against a fridge or washing machine. He was going, ‘Don’t pull me – my legs’, and I said, ‘Mate, we’re going to have to take you out now’.’
The rescuers tried to douse their clothes with water from damaged pipes to protect themselves from the flames.
Eyewitness Ms Parkinson said she and her boyfriend arrived on the scene shortly after the blast to check in on his mother who lives locally after hearing the ‘massive bang’ at around 8.30pm.
She said: ‘Callum and I’d say about 10 other men ran in to obviously help and do what they could.
‘I know they brought a man out on a mattress, I know they were willing to help a lady but couldn’t actually get to the lady.
‘We just want it known Callum didn’t act alone, there’s plenty of other people that deserve the praise.’
She said: ‘I think everyone in Kingstanding will think: what a community to be part of, you couldn’t ask for better. When it comes to it, we’re all there for each other. I’m so proud of him and proud of all the others as well.’
She added the men had helped, without ‘even a second’ of hesitation or thought for their own lives.
‘Just (straight) in there – they did what they had to do,’ she said.
‘I just think for most of us in Kingstanding it’s just a day of sadness, because of what has happened – it’s a complete tragedy. But we’re so proud of literally every single person that risked their lives to go in there and help somebody else. What a community.’
An unnamed family member said that Doreen (left and right) was ‘the life and soul of the party’ who was ‘ full of warmth and love, and she had a heart of pure gold’. Her family also said she was ‘really happy’ with her partner David Murphy who was pulled from their home on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, by brave locals after it went up in flames last night – also damaging neighbouring properties and cars in the process
Emergency services were called at 8.38pm last night to the scene of a house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham which exploded
Emergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, in Birmingham, where a woman has been found dead after a house was destroyed in a gas explosion
Other eyewitnesses told how the injured man screamed at rescuers: ‘Please save my missus, she’s still inside!’
Father-of-two Kashif Mahmood and his family had a miracle escape when they drove past the house at the moment it exploded in a fireball.
Mr Mahmood and his wife were in the car with their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son when the blast happened.
He said: ‘It was really, really shocking and scary, the worst experience of my life. We didn’t realise what had happened at first and I thought maybe the car had blown up.
‘My car was on fire, all the glass was broken, windscreen, side windows, glass roof, everything was smashed. I just stopped the car and we all just scrambled outside.’
He added: ‘One of the neighbours let me and my family come into their house and gave us water and stuff which was nice. We were very lucky. It could have been so much worse. We were right outside the house when it happened.
‘The neighbours managed to get the man out of the house. He was injured but was screaming ‘Please save my missus! My missus is still inside!’
‘The guys couldn’t go inside because the fire was so bad. They waited for the firefighters to arrive and they got in and took the woman outside but she was not in a good condition.
‘I found out this morning on the news [that she died] and that is really really sad and I feel so sorry for her family.’
West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed people at the scene rescued a man from the destroyed house but he had ‘very significant injuries’ and was taken to hospital. The area was evacuated and four other men were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Area commander Martin Ward-White from West Midlands Fire Service told reporters this morning: ‘We received multiple calls to this incident last night just after 8.30pm. On arrival it was clear a gas explosion had taken place.
‘There was one male casualty who was taken to hospital immediately with life-threatening injuries. There is no update on that casualty at this time, but what we can confirm is that sadly one female lost her life in this incident.
‘The female was identified relatively quickly within the property that exploded. However due to the process of removing this individual, and the identification process, we’ve been unable to make this statement until now.
‘Obviously that’s really sad and tragic, not just for the individuals involved, not just for the local community but especially the family and friends who have been affected by this. We continue to thank the local residents for their support and understanding.
‘In terms of the next steps for the fire service, police and gas board, it will be to start the investigation into what caused the explosion. We know it’s gas, but what actually caused that gas explosion?’
Emergency services said evacuations were taking place and people have been urged to avoid the area, with Dulwich Road and surrounding roads closed. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said West Midlands Police, WMAS, Cadent Gas and the National Grid were all working to manage the incident.
Six fire crews, three ambulances, five paramedic officers and a National Inter-Agency Liaison officer were among the resources sent to the scene.
The force said in a statement: ‘Evacuations are taking place. Those evacuated will be told where to meet. People in the area must immediately follow the instructions of first responders.
‘Dulwich Road and surround roads are closed and will be for a very long time. Please help us by avoiding the area. The cause of the explosion is not yet known.
‘Please think of those involved and their loved ones and do not post images online.
‘We will keep you updated regularly as soon as we have hard facts.’
Google street view of the house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding before the blast on Sunday night
The living room inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
The bathroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
The back garden at the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
The kitchen inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
The bedroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
Another bedroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night
West Midlands Police force said in a statement: ‘Evacuations are taking place. Those evacuated will be told where to meet. People in the area must immediately follow the instructions of first responders’
The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, where an explosion on Sunday destroyed a house and caused damage to other properties and vehicles nearby
The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, where a woman has died after an explosion destroyed a house on Sunday
Locals reported that nearby residents ran into the wrecked houses in an attempt to evacuate those inside.
One man, who declined to give his name, told the PA news agency: ‘Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in – so we went in the house, me and about a dozen others.
‘There was a guy in the back (of the house), we could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen.
‘The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us. We managed to get to him, and pull him out – I still have his blood on my jeans.
‘We got him out, he ended up coming out on a mattress. But he was saying there was a woman in the house.’
‘His clothes had been blown off, you couldn’t even see him, he was covered in blood,’ added the rescuer.
He added: ‘We just went straight through the (front) door, and I thought I went through the house’s door – but it was actually the next door house’s door, because the house door had been destroyed.
‘We come out to the back, and then we could hear the man geezer screaming, and we dug him out.
‘He was in the kitchen, lying flat on the floor, with his back against a fridge or washing machine.
‘He was going ‘don’t pull me – my legs’ and I said ‘mate, we’re going to have to take you out now’.’
The group of rescuers broke damaged water pipes, amid the rubble, to try to douse their own clothes, to protect from the flames.
Standing at the police cordon, watching the emergency services working under powerful spotlights amid the devastation, the resident added: ‘There’s nothing left of that house at all. We went through the house – and that house is gone.’
West Midlands Ambulance Service also said they sent three ambulances, five paramedic officers, MERIT trauma doctor, critical care paramedic, West Midlands care team, Hazardous Area Response Team and a national interagency liaison officer to the scene.
The West Midlands Fire Service have sent six fire crews to the incident and have warned people to ‘avoid the area at this time’.
West Midlands Ambulance Service also said they sent three ambulances, five paramedic officers, MERIT trauma doctor, critical care paramedic, West Midlands care team, Hazardous Area Response Team and a national interagency liaison officer to the scene
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