Haxby fatal house blast investigation results

Haxby house explosion. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The investigation into the gas explosion at a house in Haxby near York on February 19, which claimed the life of Paul Wilmott, has now ended.

A detailed joint investigation by North Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been carried out and has found that there is no evidence of any criminality or breaches of health and safety law that require further investigation, and no further action will be taken by either organisation.

A report will be passed to HM Coroner for the inquest into Mr Wilmott's death, which will be held at a later date.

The cause of the explosion has been established as follows:

The explosion resulted from the fracture of a gas pipe buried in the property's concrete floor. This resulted in an uncontrolled gas escape which ignited, causing the explosion.

The copper pipe was installed when the property was constructed in the early 1970s. Whilst it was not protected in any way, it was installed in accordance with the standards of the day. No evidence was found of recent gas work at the property or interference with the pipe that could have affected its integrity.

The pipe showed evidence of corrosion over a long period of time. The pipe fractured at the point where two different concrete slabs which formed the floor of the property met.

There is evidence that the two slabs had moved, placing unsustainable forces on the pipe.

Bad weather prior to the explosion had resulted in the ground surrounding the property becoming waterlogged. This could have led to ground movement causing the floor slabs to move.

Gas pipework buried in concrete does not generally pose a significant risk

This was a very unusual type of failure, caused by a combination of an unprotected pipe buried in the concrete floor, high ground moisture and resultant ground movement.

However we understand that local residents may be concerned. They may wish to consider contacting a local gas safe registered gas engineer to undertake a safety check of the gas pipework and appliances at their property - and to take their advice on what course of action is appropriate.

It is very important that a registered engineer is used as they are the only ones legally permitted to work on gas. The Gas Safe Register will be contacting registered engineers in the Haxby area to advise them on how to support residents. Contact details of registered engineers can be found on the Gas Safe Register's website or by phoning 0800 408 5500.

If you are a concerned tenant, your landlord has a legal duty to ensure that the pipework and appliances in your home are safe. Ask to see a copy of your landlord's latest gas safety certificate.