Family to return home after locals rebuild house destroyed in gas explosion

ITV News' Rhys Williams visits a family who have been given a fresh start after the local community stepped up to rebuild their home

A family caught in a devastating house explosion will make an emotional return home thanks to the support of their local community.

Three years ago, Jessica Williams was separated from her two young sons, Reuben and Elliott, and placed into an induced coma after a gas explosion at their home in Seven Sisters, Neath, in Wales.

Jessica, then 31, miraculously survived the explosion, as did Reuben and Elliot, after neighbours pulled the family free from the rubble.

And locals didn't just save their lives - they rebuilt their home, too, after discovering the property wasn't insured.

They raised tens of thousands of pounds, as well as their labour free of charge, to rebuild the Williams family home.

The scene of the house explosion shortly after.

"I don't think people really, genuinely know how much it means to us," Jessica told ITV News.

"They are saving our lives and they are rebuilding our lives for us through pure kindness.

"It's so overwhelming."

They are still dealing with the physical and mental trauma of what happened three years ago.

When the explosion occurred, Jessica was rushed to Morriston Hospital and placed into an induced coma.

Jessica said the kindness shown has been 'overwhelming'. Credit: ITV News

She spent 14 weeks in hospital being treated for a punctured lung, several broken ribs and her kidneys were failing.

She also suffered serious burns to 70% of her body.

Her injuries meant that over the last four months, the young mum has had to learn how to walk and talk again.

As well as the coma, she had a Tracheostomy which is a procedure that creates an opening in the throat to allow air to enter a person's lungs.

Because of this, Jessica was unable to speak, swallow or eat.

The boys were air-lifted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol where they spent three weeks being treated for serious injuries.

Jessica with fiancé Michael before the explosion.

Both have now returned to school in Ystradgynlais, where Jessica worked as a pre-school leader before the incident.

Now, the family are ready for a fresh start after the local community stepped up.

One of those who helped, local builder Huw, sifted through tons of rubble to salvage personal belongings.

"It took us two to three weeks per year because we were picking through quietly trying to save everything," Huw said.

"It's not about getting paid or not - it's getting their memories back."

Want a quick, expert briefing on the biggest stories of the day? Listen to What You Need To Know...