Ayr house explosion : 'Hero' neighbour rescues boy as family in hospital in serious condition

Alex Craig, who rescued a boy after the house explosion in Ayr, speaks to ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

A neighbour has been hailed a hero after rescuing a boy from the rubble of a house destroyed by an explosion.

A family of four were inside the home in Ayr, Scotland, when the explosion happened on Monday evening.

A woman, 43, a man, 47, and two boys, 16 and 11, all survived, but are in serious condition in hospital.

The fact that they all survived is in part down to neighbour Alex Craig's bravery as he ran to the scene of the explosion to search for trapped victims in the wreckage before the fire brigade and ambulance arrived.

Drone footage showing the destruction caused by a house explosion in Ayr, Scotland

Mr Craig told ITV News: "I had no other thoughts but just the fact to get the folk out of there as quickly and as safely as possible."

He continued: "I said to myself, there's people going to be alive here.

"And luckily enough, there was that one wee boy that showed his face underneath the rubble and we pulled him out."

Asked how he felt when he rescued the boy, Mr Craig struggled to find words before saying: "I can't explain it. I'm speechless. I'm just so happy that he was there."

He added: "I'm surprised anybody can survive that. Somebody must've been up there watching them, thank God."

But he shied away from describing his acts as heroic: "I put in as much effort as everybody else did. If it wasn't for such good people in here, that we came together, God knows what else would've happened."

People inspect a damaged house in Gorse Park, Kincaidston. Credit: PA

Drone images show one house in a terrace of four completely collapsed, while the roof of a neighbouring house appears to have caved in. Debris is scattered around the area.

Neighbours were evacuated from part of the Kincaidston area after emergency services were called to Gorse Park at about 7.10pm on Monday.

Police Chief Inspector Derrick Johnston said authorities are working together to investigate what happened and described it as a “complex incident”.

Police Scotland Chief Inspector Derrick Johnston and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Area Commander Ian McMeekin speak to journalists Credit: PA

He said: “Our thoughts are with the family and everyone within the local community affected by this.

“A joint investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is being carried out.”

He said the family are in serious condition in hospital.

The woman and the 16-year-old boy are being treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the man is being at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and an 11-year-old boy is at the Royal Hospital for Children.

A damaged house in Gorse Park, Kincaidston. Credit: PA

Marcus Tindal-Wiles, 25, who lives near the scene of the blast, said: “The entire building shook from the shockwave.”

He added that he has “never felt anything like it before”.

Moira Muir, 59, whose friend lives opposite the blast site and who rushed to her friend’s aid after the explosion, described the scene as “something you cannot comprehend unless you see the sheer scale of the damage”.

She said: “Her lounge window was blown in and the radiator in her upstairs bathroom was blown off the wall.”

Ms Muir, who runs a holiday home rental in North Ayrshire, added that: “The smell of smoke was quite overpowering, but the biggest shock was seeing the amount of rubble and how far it had travelled.

“I have never seen anything like it.”

An image taken by drone of the scene in Gorse Park, Kincaidston Credit: PA

South Ayrshire Council said it is working with emergency services to determine who can return to their homes and those who cannot due to “ongoing building safety concerns”.

The council said: “Once we know who may still require accommodation, our housing teams will work with residents to support them.

“As soon as we are clear where the inner cordon lies, we will start the clear-up operation, which requires to be done with sensitivity due to personal effects being included among general debris.”

Emergency services at the scene following a large explosion at a house in Gorse Park, Ayr Credit: PA

Local councillor Chris Cullen told BBC Good Morning Scotland he believes the explosion was caused by gas caused.

Describing the scene, he said: “It is quite harrowing actually. Early yesterday evening there was a row of houses and now there is a hole.

“Two-and-a-half houses are missing. It is quite shocking how far the debris has fallen and the damage it has caused.”

Debris that has landed and smashed the windscreen of a car in Primrose Park, a street near to Gorse Park, Kincaidston Credit: PA

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said nine fire engines and specialist appliances were sent to the scene. Two engines were still at the scene at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

Ian McMeekin, the fire service's Area Commander, said: “This has been an extremely complex and challenging incident which significantly damaged multiple properties in the area and resulted in the evacuation of other nearby homes.

“We will remain in attendance for some time as we work with our partners to ensure the area is safe.”

Gas distribution company SGN had been helping emergency services.