1. ITV Report

Cheltenham gas blast remains a mystery

The devastation at Rosehill Street in Cheltenham last year Photo: ITV News West Country

By Ken Goodwin, Gloucestershire Correspondent

A year ago this Friday, I was at home when I got a call saying there had been a huge explosion in a Cheltenham street.

I got to Rosehill Street pretty quickly, to see the houses already being painted with streaks of blue light from the fire and ambulance service.

One house had gone. Two were badly damaged. Debris covered the street. A car was buried in rubble. It was like a scene from the blitz. How could anyone survive this?

As the story unfolded it turned out that the occupant of the house, 81 year old Betty Hodgkiss, incredibly, had survived. Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue crews had bravely dug through smouldering rubble to get to her.

This was a story full of "what ifs".

What it resident Andy Turvey had been walking past the house just 40 seconds earlier? He'd have taken the full force of the blast. What if the people opposite had been in their sitting room? The front door which was blown across the road and through their window could have killed them.

It was one of those times you are glad that circumstances worked in everyone's favour. And that you are not reporting severe injuries and deaths.

One year on, and there is a big gap in Rosehill Street. Three houses once stood there. They have not yet been rebuilt.

The Health & safety Executive has finished its investigation. They can find no "definitive cause" for the explosion. The house and its contents were shredded by the blast making forensic examination of its boiler all but impossible.

They will eventually be rebuilt, and the gap will be closed. Rosehill Street will be complete once again.