ROKER EXPLOSION AFTERMATH: Gentoo boss gives update on 'incredibly scary' scene after suspected gas blast leaves one man in critical condition

“It’s incredibly scary” – Gentoo Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wilson has expressed his concerns and thoughts for the two men injured after visiting the site of a suspected gas explosion at one of the company’s Sunderland properties.

The Emergency Services were called to a Gentoo owned property on Whickham Street at around 3.45pm on Tuesday after what is suspected to be an explosion caused by a gas leak.

Two men were rescued from the scene, including one from inside the destroyed property, with what were initially described as not life threatening injuries. However, on Wednesday morning police said the condition of one of the men had deteriorated overnight and that he is now in a “critical but stable state”.

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Mr Wilson was visiting the site as structural engineers and engineers from Northern Gas Networks looked to assess the cause of the explosion and scale of the damage.

Gentoo Group CEO Nigel Wilson.

He said: “It’s incredibly scary to see the scale of the damage and we are hopeful that both residents survive and make a full recovery. One of the residents from downstairs spoke with us this morning and he’s now sat up in bed in the hospital but it appears the resident from upstairs is in a more critical but stable condition.

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"Unfortunately at the moment we are no further forward regarding the cause if the blast. There’s obviously speculation it was a gas explosion but it would be unfair to say anymore at this time as we literally don’t know.”

With the city set to be battered by Storm Dudley and later Storm Eunice on Friday, Mr Wilson has urged people to “keep away from the site”.

The aftermath of yesterday's (February 15) explosion on Whickham Street, Roker.

He said: “Our primary concern now is to ensure everyone is as safe as possible. Unfortunately the coincidence of this incident happening with two storms on the way is a real concern and we are limited to what we can do to secure the actual building until all the assessments have taken place.

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"All I can do is to echo the calls of the Emergency Services to “keep away”. The area has been fenced off and we will have security in place to keep people away.”

With Gentoo currently owning seven of the adjoining properties, Mr Wilson said he was unable to say what the long-term future may be for the houses damaged by the blast.

He said: “I can’t yet say if the building is salvageable but it doesn’t look good to my eyes. We also need to consider all the other properties as they are all interlinked and so we will have to assess this following the full structural survey.”

Damage to the properties after the suspected gas explosion on Whickham Street, Roker.
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Following the blast, Gentoo have provided hotel accommodation or helped to temporarily relocate evacuated residents, including the property next door which is privately owned.

Ten residents had to be evacuated from eight properties and the company have pledged to continue to support those effected by the blast.

Mr Wilson added: “These people had to leave yesterday with absolutely nothing and so we have provided temporary shelter and accommodation. We will continue to support them and provide all the necessary care packages and will continue to liaise with those involved over what their options are.”

A message from the editor:

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The cause of the explosion in Whickham Street, Roker, remains under investigation.

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Debris and damage caused to cars after the explosion on Whickham Street, Roker.