Men will not be charged after gas blast wrecked Sunderland houses

The rear of the house in Halidon Road, Hill View, and the damage caused by the explosion.
The rear of the house in Halidon Road, Hill View, and the damage caused by the explosion.
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TWO men arrested over a gas blast which rocked a Wearside street have been released without charge.

A 27-year-old and 44-year-old were questioned by police after the explosion at a ground-floor flat, in Halidon Road, Hill View, Sunderland.

Officers were understood to be pursuing a line of inquiry which suggested the property may have been burgled and damaged prior to the blast in March.

Housing firm Gentoo was forced to demolish four properties, including Mark’s, which were left damaged beyond repair after the explosion.

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.

However, Northumbria Police today confirmed that no further action would be taken against the pair.

A spokesman for the force said: “A 27-year-old man and a 44-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

“No further action will be taken regarding both of them.”

As reported in the Echo, resident Mark Waller narrowly escaped with his life from the inferno.

The 45-year-old had just returned home from a night out when he lit a cigarette, sparking the horror blast.

He said: “I remember there was a bang and a huge red flash which engulfed me.

“It was like a fireball.

“I wasn’t aware at the time how loud it was, but some of the neighbours said it was like a bomb going off.

“I grabbed a quilt to protect me from the flames and ran outside into the street.

“I was in complete shock.

“The next thing I knew the neighbours were around me and the emergency services were there.”

He was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital and later transferred to Newcastle RVI, where he spent six days and underwent treatment at a specialist burns unit and physiotherapy to regain the movement in his hands.

“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive, ” he said. “I was in a real mess. My face and hands were swollen up. I was on morphine and in terrible pain.”

@SunEchoJohnston