A PENSIONER has died after a gas explosion at her home.
Mary Pells Black, 86, was rescued by a neighbour from the blazing house in Hylton Castle.
She was taken to hospital but later died.
Mrs Pells Black was rescued from the house by her neighbour David Thompson.
He grabbed a garden ornament and launched it through the front window after hearing her screams for help.
The 42-year-old climbed through the window in a race against time to save her.
He grabbed her and attempted to put out her blazing clothes as he battled through the thick smoke to get her out of her Craigshaw Square home yesterday.
A second explosion, which blew out the upstairs windows and back wall, threw them to the floor but David managed to get them outside.
He took the woman to his house next door and put water on her burns while they waited for an ambulance.
The woman, who lived by herself, was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
David’s wife Lisa, 38, said: “David’s totally shaken up by it, he’s in absolute bits.
“We heard a bang and looked out of the window and saw all this smoke coming out of her house and we could hear her shouting for help.
“My husband came out and she was at the front door covered in flames.
“He ran over and put his hand through the letter box and held her’s and was telling her he was going to get her out.
“He didn’t think twice about going in and broke the window using a garden ornament.
“I think he’s been really brave because I couldn’t have done that. If he hadn’t gone inside she would have burnt alive.”
Fire crews put out the blaze before workers from Northern Gas Network landed on scene to look into the cause of the blast.
Tests revealed there was no leak at the property and the company is reassuring residents there is no danger of another explosion.
Gentoo workers were at the house yesterday securing the property.
Deb Edmunson, 48, who lives on the street, said: “I heard this loud bang. I’ve never heard anything like it before.
“I went outside and there was all this shouting, I could hear people saying ‘we need to try and break the window’.
“Then David went in and managed to take her out through the back of the house. She was really badly burned, it was just awful.
“If he hadn’t gone in to get her then I dread to think what would have happened.”
Caroline Crossley, 24, added: “There was so much commotion with thick black smoke billowing from the house.
“The street was full of police cars and fire engines and ambulances and neighbours panicking.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said they were called to the incident at about 10.25am yesterday.
The case has been passed to the Health and Safety Executive for investigation.