Sunderland blast victim’s new home plea

Mark Waller stands outside where is house used to be before the explosion.
Mark Waller stands outside where is house used to be before the explosion.
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GAS-BLAST victim Mark Waller today appealed for help to get a roof over his head after losing all his belongings in the explosion which engulfed his flat.

The 45-year-old is currently living in a hostel after he narrowly escaped with his life from the ground-floor property in Halidon Road, Hill View, Sunderland.

The site of the gas blast houses on Halidon Road, Hill VIew, Sunderland, which have been demolished.

The site of the gas blast houses on Halidon Road, Hill VIew, Sunderland, which have been demolished.

He had just returned home from a night out when he lit a cigarette, sparking the horror blast.

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

But now he is facing a fresh ordeal as he waits for housing chiefs to find him a new home.

“I lost everything in the explosion,” he said. “I was lucky to get out alive. I was in a terrible state when I got to hospital. My head and hands were swollen. I was in a lot of pain.

“When I saw the state of the flat, I couldn’t believe I’d got out of there alive.”

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

Mark said: “They just stuck me in a hostel. It’s absolutely awful. I have no idea when they will find me something suitable.

“All I have left is the clothes I’m standing up in. It’s like starting from scratch. I’m desperate.”

Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, said they was working hard to find Mr Waller a new home.

“Four properties were beyond repair as a result of structural damage caused by the gas explosion,” he said. “Within 24 hours of the incident the properties were demolished and residents were temporarily re-housed.

“We are currently in the process of permanently re-housing residents. Mr Waller has specific housing needs and requirements.

“We have offered alternative accommodation to Mr Waller which he has refused. We will continue to work with him to find a solution.”

l A 27-year-old man remains on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of burglary.

He was questioned by officers shortly after the incident.

Police are now understood to be pursuing a line of inquiry which suggests the property may have been burgled and damaged prior to the blast.