'Gas explosion' killing Wythenshawe pensioner could have been caused by appliance to keep bills down

  • Residents describe the scene in the aftermath of the blast

A suspected gas blast which killed a man in his 90s may have been caused by an appliance bought by the pensioner to 'help with the cold snap in anticipation of rising energy bills'.

The man, named locally as Frank Burton, died in the explosion in Wythenshawe, Manchester, at around 6.30pm on Thursday 31 March.

A number of houses were evacuated and nearby roads closed as emergency services rushed to the scene on Brownley Road.

The pensioner was found dead inside a property, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said. Emergency services remain at the scene today, 1 April.

Police said there were reports of a 'gas explosion', specific details have not yet been confirmed.

Emergency services remain on the scene in Wythenshawe while they, and Cadent workers, carry out investigations into the blast.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News from the scene, Frank's brother Philip said he believed he may have bought an appliance to "help with the cold snap in anticipation of rising energy bills".

The cause of the blast has not been confirmed by officials, and fire investigators and Cadent workers remain at the scene.

Residents reported hearing a 'huge explosion' coming from a property on the street that 'shook their houses like an earthquake', with images showing a huge hole in the front of the house.

Matt Muncaster, 27, who lives close to where the explosion took place, tried to help with fellow neighbours before firefighters arrived.

"The scene was awful, (there were) massive amounts of smoke almost instantly," he said.

"Me and a neighbour tried to kick the door down to try and get in to see if the resident was home but we couldn't get in. However the fire service managed to get into the house about five minutes after."

Residents reported hearing a loud bang. Credit: MEN Media

Paying tribute to his brother, Philip, 71, said: "He was good character and a good guy."

Frank was a widow, having lost his wife Brenda a decade ago, his sibling said.

He added: "Frank was in the motor industry, he used to do body work and was highly skilled and respected. He was a dad-of-two.

"This is a chap who when he was working once went ballooning over the Grand Canyon. He was an occasional visitor to Las Vegas.

"I haven't been able to reach Frank for some time, he was deaf. He was deaf because he got blown out of bed during the War during The Blitz in Manchester."

  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Police are at the scene

Large numbers of fire crews and police officers are in place in the street, with a cordon in place opposite Crossacres tram stop.

Residents living nearby were evacuated from their homes, with those closest to the house were given temporary accommodation overnight.

All residents have now returned home and it is not believed any damaged has been caused to neighbouring properties.

Detective Inspector Matthew Dixon, of GMP's City of Manchester district, said: "Our investigations with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive are at an early stage as we try and determine the cause of the explosion.

"It is believed this was a self-contained incident and there is no threat to surrounding properties."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it was "saddened that someone has lost their life".

A spokesperson said: "At around 6.30pm on 31 March, crews were called to reports of a fire at a domestic property on Brownley Road in Manchester.

"Four fire engines from Bolton North, Cheadle, Wythenshawe and Stockport stations, and the Technical Rescue Unit from Ashton attended.

GMP said it is carrying out investigations and officers are supporting the man's family. Credit: MEN Media

"Firefighters assessed the scene and are using breathing apparatus and hose reels to control the fire and make the scene safe.

"Crews are working with colleagues from Greater Manchester Police and North West Ambulance Service and are currently still on the scene."

A spokesperson for gas company Cadent said: "The thoughts of everyone at Cadent are with those affected by the incident in Brownley Road, Wythenshawe on Thursday evening.

"It is too early to speculate on the cause of the explosion and our engineers remain on site to assist with the investigation."

GMP said it is carrying out investigations and officers are supporting the victim's family.

The force said the scene was made safe at about 8pm.