Mum and daughter 'still homeless' almost eight months after Bury house blast

bury mum homeless
Still homeless - Stephanie and daughter Evie Credit: MEN Media

A mum from Bury says she and her daughter are still homeless almost eight months after a huge explosion that damaged her house and killed a neighbour.

Stephanie Hartley and her daughter Evie, seven, were both injured in the blast in Summerseat, in February.

Their next door neighbour, Hazel Wilcock, was killed when her home was destroyed.

Neighbour Hazel Wilcock was killed in the explosion Credit: MEN Media

Stephanie and Evie have been unable to return to the home they rented on East View since.

For the past seven months, they have been staying with family members while trying to find somewhere else to live.

Stephanie, 38, says she cannot afford to rent privately and Bury Council do not have any properties to meet her and Evie's needs.

Steph and Evie rented the house on East View Credit: MEN Media

Stephanie, who works as a healthcare assistant at Fairfield Hospital, said: "What we have been through is awful.

Shortly before the explosion, Stephanie thought she could smell gas in her kitchen. Soon after, she and Evie were watching TV together in the front room when they heard a sudden blast.

The blast left a gaping hole in the terrace Credit: MEN Media

"All the pictures flew off the walls," Stephanie said. "I thought my loft had caved in at first. Everything was pitch black and all the alarms were going off."

Stephanie had been trying to get her daughter to go to bed - and believes her refusal to go may have saved her life.

Neighbours helped to rescue them and pull them to safety. Stephanie saw Hazel Wilcock's home had been reduced to rubble and she knew immediately there was 'no way' her neighbour could have survived.

Stephanie's parents, who live on the other side of the exploded property, were also rescued. The impact of the blast caused one wall of Stephanie's home to cave in, while the windows at the back of the house were completely shattered.

After ensuring her daughter was safe, Stephanie went back into the house to rescue their Shih Tzu, Betsy, from the wreckage.

She and Evie were then taken to hospital to receive treatment for minor injuries.

The night of the blast remains a horrific memory for both Stephanie and Evie.

Stephanie experiences regular flashbacks and believes she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stephanie's home was damaged in the blast Credit: MEN Media

They say the added stress of not having a place to call home has only compounded matters.

"I constantly worry about what's going to happen to us," Stephanie explained.

"I’m eager for us to find somewhere to rebuild our lives. The council don't have any properties in the area."Following the blast, she contacted Bury Council and was deemed 'high priority for rehousing'.

However, she says all of the homes she has been offered are unsuitable for her needs. This week, she explains there are six properties she can bid on - all one bedroom flats.

She is also reluctant to move too far away as it would mean having to move Evie to another school and travelling further to get to work.In August, an inquest into Ms Wilcock's death heard the blast was most likely caused by a nearby fractured gas main.

Stephanie could smell gas just before the blast Credit: MEN Media

A Bury council spokesman added: “We have every sympathy with Stephanie and her daughter, who went through a very distressing experience when they lost their house.

“The council has assessed her needs and has given her a high priority for rehousing. However, she has not yet accepted the offers of accommodation we have made.

“Unfortunately there is very high demand for social housing in Bury, and a very limited number of properties available in the particular area she would prefer to live in.''