Sunderland mum terrified after gas blast leaves family home ‘unfit to live in’

Natalie Waterson and son Richie (3) look at some of the damaged caused to her house after last weeks exlosion in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope.
Natalie Waterson and son Richie (3) look at some of the damaged caused to her house after last weeks exlosion in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope.
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A Sunderland mum says she is terrified to be at home after a gas blast which she believes has left her property unfit to live in.

Natalie Jane Waterson, 24, lives just one door down from the house destroyed in Friday morning’s explosion on Rosslyn Avenue in Ryhope.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

The blast which took place on Friday, left 40-year-old occupant Susan Shepherd seriously injured and led to the evacuation of neighbouring families in the immediate aftermath.

Susan’s home was destroyed and the adjoining semi-detached was also demolished due to safety concerns.

Mum-of-two Natalie fled to her mum’s house following the blast, but was allowed to return home on Monday.

But after returning home with son Richie Bates, three, and daughter Rubie Bates, one, she discovered a huge crack along her bedroom wall leading up to her window frame.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

On peeling back the wallpaper, she says part of the wall came down, causing her to fear for her family’s safety.

Gentoo insists the property is ‘structurally sound and safe’ and that the damage is ‘purey cosmetic’ and will be repaired.

Natalie said: “I just got up in the morning and heard this almighty explosion - I thought it was a terror attack.

“I picked the kids up and ran.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

The damage at Natalie Jane Waterson's home following the blast.

“I didn’t even look behind so I didn’t realise it was the house right next to me.

“I have been at my mum’s since it happened as I am terrified to go home.

“My bedroom wall is all cracked and when I peeled the wallpaper back the wall just collapsed.

“I rang Gentoo straight away and said it wasn’t fit to live in.

Hole in the roof of the next door property to the Rosslyn Avenue explosion.

Hole in the roof of the next door property to the Rosslyn Avenue explosion.

“They got a construction worker out to see me and said they just needed to do repairs, but said that I was going to have to wait to get that work done.

“They didn’t say how long the work was going to take and I am scared to live in the property.

“They said just pull the kids bed out to make sure that nothing falls on the kids overnight.”

She continued: “I live just one door down from the explosion and my next door neighbour’s house was demolished.

“I feel terrible for everybody in the street, but I just thought with being that close the explosion I would get a little bit of help from Gentoo.”

Michelle Meldrum, executive director of operations at Gentoo Group said: “All of the properties in the area surrounding the incident in Ryhope on Friday have been assessed by a qualified structural engineer.

Hole in the roof of the next door property to the Rosslyn Avenue explosion.

Hole in the roof of the next door property to the Rosslyn Avenue explosion.

“Miss Waterson’s property has been fully assessed twice and on both occasions has been deemed structurally sound and safe.

“The damage referred to by Miss Waterson is purely cosmetic and this repair will be carried out in due course.

“We understand Miss Waterson would like to relocate to another area of the city and, like any customer who wishes to move, we will work with her via our usual allocations process.”

* Susan Shepherd remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

She was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary by the Great North Air Ambulance.

Susan’s children, Jasmine, nine, and Kyle, 19, were out at the time.

Last night, she is said to be in a serious but stable condition.

Scene of Ryhope Explosion, Rosslyn Avenue.

Scene of Ryhope Explosion, Rosslyn Avenue.

Scene of Ryhope Explosion, Rosslyn Avenue.

Scene of Ryhope Explosion, Rosslyn Avenue.