A retired firefighter said he "didn't think twice" before rushing to help a woman who became trapped after an explosion at a house in Seven Sisters, Neath Port Talbot.

Stephen Lewis, who runs a fish and chip shop in the area, was one of the first people on the scene on Wednesday afternoon and helped free the woman from the debris.

Mr Lewis said "instinct kicked in" when he and others had to pry the woman out from underneath a fridge using a large piece of timber.

A 31-year-old woman and two children, who are both under the age of six, were seriously injured in the incident. They all remain in hospital and are said to be in a critical but stable condition.

Stephen Lewis was in his garden working on his patio at the time of the explosion but was alerted when he suddenly heard a loud noise.

He and others on the street rushed to see what had happened and where shocked to see the devastation.

Mr Lewis retired from the fire service around 10 years ago but said "instinct kicked back in" as he and a group of people rushed to help.

Several people, including Mr Lewis and another retired fire fighter, entered the building from the back and found the woman wedged underneath a fridge. They passed out debris in a chain and eventually prized the fridge off of her using a piece of timber.

We came around the back, so we could not see what was happening at the front of the building. The children got out the front way and the message was relayed through so that we could tell the lady that her children were safe, which I think gave her a good bit of comfort.

Stephen Lewis
Around 14 properties nearby were evacuated following the explosion. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales
Two boys, aged two and five, were taken by air ambulance to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, while a 31-year-old woman was taken by ambulance to Morriston Hospital. Credit: Matthew Horwood

The chip shop owner described the situation as "surreal" and said he only came to terms with what had happened later that evening after returning home and continuing work on his patio.

At about ten o'clock last night, I sat down and then bang - it hit me. The enormity of that situation. It was unbelievable but at the end of the day...houses can be rebuilt. I am glad that they got out alive.

Stephen Lewis

Mr Lewis said since the explosion, the community has come together and those involved in the rescue have received messages of gratitude from people all over, not just from the local area.

He added that he hopes the woman and two children are alright and he is thinking of them.

The fridge saved her life to be honest with you. It was a miracle.

Stephen Lewis
Mr Lewis and a group of others used a bit of timber that had come from the ceiling to prize the fridge off of the woman. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Emergency services including police, ambulance, air ambulance and fire service were called to Church Road shortly after 2pm Wednesday afternoon after reports of an explosion.

Two boys, aged two and five, were taken by air ambulance to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, while a 31-year-old woman was taken by ambulance to Morriston Hospital.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.