Neighbours showed 'tremendous bravery' to rescue family from fire

Neighbours showed 'tremendous bravery' to rescue family from fire

Neighbours of a family-of-three who had to jump out of their home to escape an explosion have been praised as heroes for coming to their aid.

John Wilson, a double lung transplant survivor who uses a stair-lift, was forced to jump from a window in the property in Ashton-under-Lyne after it caught fire at around 5am on Tuesday.

A neighbour is thought to have brought a mattress to break his fall and Mr Wilson is now in hospital.

His wife Hazel was caught by a neighbour when she leapt from the bedroom window, but is reported to have suffered a number of fractures.

The couple's daughter Danielle, 22, was forced to jump from the roof before the blast tore the house apart.

A neighbour told how he dragged her away as she exclaimed: "Help me, I'm on fire".

Danielle's older sister, Leanne Wilson, 25, earlier told the Press Association that she was "lost for words".

Miss Wilson, who is a mother-of-one and lives just a couple of doors down from her family, said she heard the explosion.

She said of her family: "I just saw everyone on the road. I thought it was next door then everyone said 'it's your mum and dad's house'. A lot of people said they were very lucky.

"At the moment all we know is that they are stable, that's all I know at the moment. She (mum) is very shocked. They have lost everything."

She added that they were still at a loss as to what happened.

"A lot of people heard it, it was quite a big bang."

She said that she had been to see her mother in hospital, who was said to be talking.

The three family members are all in separate hospitals.

Miss Wilson added that her sister slept in an attic room.

She said: "She jumped off the roof, I don't know where she landed. They (parents) jumped out of the bedroom window."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters will remain at the scene overnight and an investigation into what happened will begin on Wednesday.

At least 10 people were injured, with several of those who came to help after hearing the explosion wounded by glass and flying debris, local MP Angela Rayner said.

She said the "massive explosion" followed a fire, and praised those living nearby for doing what they could to help the family.

She said: "Everyone in the local community is very shocked about what has happened, but there were some real Ashton heroes today who helped the three members of the family who were in the house at the time.

Describing a scene of "utter devastation" she said: "The neighbours showed real community spirit and tremendous bravery to put their own safety at risk to try and help the Wilson family.

"And the people of Ashton are already rallying around to help the family which shows the real strength of local people."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service commander Alan Ashworth said the number of casualties had risen to "at least 10" - telling reporters at the scene they are "concerned" for three of these as they have "quite severe burns and lacerations".

He said crews were initially called to reports of a blaze but when they arrived firefighters found a "number of people injured on the floor", saying it was "obvious" there had been an explosion.

One neighbour said he dragged Danielle from the house after hearing what he thought was a bomb.

Sam Armstead, 28, who lives behind the property, said he had been up with his sick daughter when he saw the fire from his window.

He said: "It literally happened in a millisecond, the house just blew up. I jumped up - I had no top on and just my pyjama pants. I jumped over all the fences, got there and she was lying on the floor, the back of her hair was on fire and her back was on fire.

"I pulled her out a bit more. She was laying on her back saying 'help me I'm on fire'.

"I'm okay, cuts and bruises on my feet that's about it. I only went to the back I didn't go to the front."

He described the explosion as sounding "like we were being bombed".

He added: "An uncontrollable bang, it made you duck, it made me cower. All you saw was a burst of flames coming out of the roof. When I got to the house it was all still in tact then it blew out.

"If you look at the state of the house it's unbelievable that people got out alive."

Eight properties on the road had to be evacuated and it is believed that the property adjoining will be demolished.

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