Former resident of Sunderland gas blast street says community left frightened

Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope
Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope

A former resident of the Sunderland street where a house was destroyed in a gas explosion says the blast has left people concerned and frightened.

Sharon Henderson says she is terrified for her safety and that of her neighbours after last week’s blast left a woman in a serious condition in hospital when her home was reduced to rubble.

Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope

Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope

Sharon, 50, who lived in stricken Rosslyn street until she moved to nearby St Patrick’s Terrace three years ago, said something needs to be done to stop it happening again.

Northern Gas Networks has said safety checks carried out in the immediate vicinity of the explosion found no faults at that time and they are continuing to work with the Health and Safety Executive to determine how it happened.

But Sharon said: “I’ve lived in Ryhope 10 years now. There have been quite a few gas leaks.

“The people of Ryhope believe it is caused by subsidence.

I know how it’s affecting families and I don’t want to see it happen again – It was such a shock

Sharon Henderson, Ryhope resident

“It’s causing everything to shift – last year we had to get the back of mine and my garden dug up because the sewage pipes were cracked and everything was getting blocked from this street and down to Rosslyn Avenue.”

There are currently gas works going on outside Sharon’s home, and she added: “My neighbour could smell gas in her garden and they’ve been here for days.

“It’s just happening too often in my street. People are complaining that it’s been going on too long – they need to renew the lot.

“The day I moved in here I wasn’t allowed to come in. There was notice outside saying there was a gas leak and the residents weren’t allowed in.

Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope

Sharon Henderson is concerned over gas leaks around Ryhope

“I’m the youngest living in this street. They are all elderly people and it’s concerning and frightening.

Susan Shepherd was left with burns to her hands and suffered a blow to the head in the impact of the blast last Friday.

The 40-year-old had been looking in the fridge when the explosion hit, just before 9am, and was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary in a serious condition by the Great North Air Ambulance.

Her house was destroyed while the neighbouring semi-detached house was demolished later that day due to safety concerns.

A fire brigade picture showing the extent of the damage to the semi-detached house in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope.

A fire brigade picture showing the extent of the damage to the semi-detached house in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope.

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

A refuge was set up at a nearby community centre and Sharon was one of the volunteers who came out in force to assist people affected by the blast.

She said: “On Friday I was down at the community centre. I set up a second hand shop with clothes and toys and buggies to help the families.

“I went to the shop and they donated things like food and nappies.

“I know how it’s affecting families and I don’t want to see it happen again. It was such a shock.”

Martin Alderson, Asset Risk Management and Safety Director for Northern Gas Networks, said: “Emergency engineers from Northern Gas Networks (NGN) attended the scene of an incident at Ryhope, Sunderland on Friday, August 11, and made the situation safe.

“Engineers carried out safety checks on the network in the immediate vicinity of the explosion and found no faults at that time.

“We are continuing to work closely with the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) to understand the cause of the incident and engineers are on site to reassure customers of any concerns.

“Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

“This line is in operation 24-hours per day, seven days per week.”

When asked about wider concerns in Ryhope, Northern Gas Networks said it had nothing to add to its statement.