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A year before family can return home after Andover gas explosion

  • Watch Mary Stanley's report below

It will be a year before a family forced to leave their home in Andover following a gas explosion can return.

Peter and Amanda Cooper say it's been the toughest six weeks of their lives after their house was evacuated on Launcelot Close on December 27th.

A house at the end of a block of eight in King Arthur's Way collapsed following a gas explosion at around 2.30am.

The house next door was badly damaged.

The third house along, belonging to the Cooper's, remained in place but cracks and holes in the walls still show the impact of the explosion.

A number of homes were evacuated at the time and crews from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary were on scene.

The body of 48-year-old James Kirkby was found in the rubble following the explosion.

I remember just a crashing sound coming down the stairs, people knocking on the door which in itself was scary as it was only 2.30 in the morning. It was just unreal, stood there in the dark and in the cold and looking at what was left of number two because number one was just completely gone."

– Amanda Cooper
The family bought their house in Launcelot Close 8 years ago (pictured with scaffolding)

Amanda and Peter, along with their two sons and two daughters, were living in a nearby hotel for five weeks.

The family say they've lost income, having to take time off to deal with their insurance company and builders.

The Cooper family

They have now been moved into temporary accommodation in Enham, briefly returning home to collect their belongings.

The family have been told it could take up to a year before they can fully return.

Large holes are still visible in the Cooper household following the explosion two doors along
The family have been told it could take a year for them to return home

It's not being over dramatic to say we were inches away from fatality ourselves that night and we're just thankful that we got out of it and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone to have to go through what we've been through."

– Peter Cooper

The death of James Kirkby is not being treated as suspicious and an inquest will be held on 18th June.