A MAN injured in a gas explosion at his home has undergone treatment at a specialist burns unit.
The 45-year-old suffered injuries to his face and hands in the blast at his ground-floor flat in Halidon Road, Hill View, Sunderland.
It is understood he had been re-entering the property when he lit a cigarette, sparking the blaze.
He was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital after the explosion in the early hours of yesterday.
The upstairs flat and three neighbouring properties were also damaged.
Some will have to be demolished.
As investigators today continued their probe into the cause of the explosion, the injured householder was transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital for specialist treatment.
His condition is not thought to be life-threatening.
A spokeswoman for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, which is carrying out a joint investigation with Northumbria Police, said: “It is understood the occupant entered the property and lit a cigarette. There was then a gas explosion.
“At this point, we do not know what has happened to cause that situation. The investigation is ongoing.”
Engineers have visited the scene to assess the structural safety of the damaged properties, while residents continued their clean-up operation.
Neighbouring properties and two cars were hit by the blast.
A conservatory in nearby Helvellyn Road also collapsed after its windows and doors were blown out.
Masonry and shattered glass was strewn across gardens and a front door was thrown more than 15ft across the road.
William Robson, 54, who lives a few doors away, said: “I heard a blast, like a bomb going off. I came rushing out and the whole street was out. The man was walking around the street dazed and in shock, with burns to his legs and head.
“He is really lucky to be alive.”
Housing firm Gentoo, which owns the damaged properties, will carry out repairs where possible once investigators have completed their probe.
Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo, said: “We are unable to provide details at this stage as the incident is subject to a police investigation.
“However, due to structural damage caused by the gas explosion some of the properties will need to be demolished.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “The house was extensively damaged and several adjoining houses suffered window damage.
“Several cars were also damaged from the debris.”