Community vigil held for woman killed in Kingstanding house explosion

A split screen of Doreen Mace and the vigil
Hundreds attend the community vigil in Kingstanding, to remember resident Doreen Mace Credit: ITV News Central

Around two hundred people turned out at vigil in Kingstanding in Birmingham last night (Sunday 3rd July), exactly a week after a house explosion, in which one woman lost her life.

Doreen Mace, who was 79, died in the blast on the evening of Sunday 26th June.

The house on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding was destroyed by a gas explosion.

There was also severe damage to other properties, and parked cars.

A man remains in a "life-threatening" condition after the blast.

Flowers are left close to the barriers at the house that is cordoned off Credit: ITV News Central

Many residents felt the impact of the blast, and surrounding homes have been torn down for safety reasons.

Resident Vinroy Johnson works in the Jewellery Quarter. His flat has now been demolished as he was a direct neighbour.

He says he has lost a lot of his belongings, and is being put up in the nearby Kingstanding Inn.

He says the fire service went back into his damaged flat for him to get his phone, and thanked how the community have come together to help those impacted.

Mr Johnson says: "I saw the cooker come off the wall and started to panic.... I thought "Father, please not like this".

Meanwhile, a neighbour told ITV Central how he pulled a man out of the burning house.

Harley Seccombe said he 'acted on instinct' after hearing the explosion from down the road in Dulwich Road in Kingstanding.

Another neighbour, Mark Daguilar described the bang as "unimaginable".

Mr Daguilar says: "I was sat in my house chilling, heard the bang, and said to my missus 'We need to get out'.

"My missus reminded me to go back in and get the dog, we couldn't see anything, it was like a horror movie."

Mark says he then went back in to help other locals try and rescue a trapped neighbour, describing the carnage "as if God had turned on a giant bunsen burner".

At the vigil Mark thanked the bravery of the community for their united efforts in trying to help each other moments after the blast.

Aerial view of the impact of the blast Credit: ITV News Central

An investigation into the house explosion has concluded that the cause was an "accident".

In a joint statement from West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police and The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), they said the most likely cause was "accidental" and "inadvertent".

The Fire Service added: "Demolition work yesterday afternoon (29 June) enabled investigators to safely access and test sections of the property’s internal gas piping.

"They have concluded that the explosion was most likely caused by the accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework."

Paulette Hamilton, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, was at the vigil, and paid tribute to the efforts of the community coming together, to help those affected.

Ms Hamilton said: "The community has been subdued and sad because of what has happened.

"But what's been wonderful is the way they've comforted each other, especially the little resources they have.

"It's been like a village coming together to support each other. It was comforting. There are a number of families who have lost their homes.

"It's been nice to see people here showing their support."

Paulette says those affected by the explosion "must keep talking to help each other through the traumatic time".

Ms Hamilton adds: "Keep talking, don't bottle things up. We've got a lot of people traumatised. We've got a funeral coming up for the lady we lost.

"We've got families displaced.

"Please as a community don't stop talking. Please keep supporting each other and let us just move forward one step at a time'.