Birmingham gas explosion: what happened to house in Kingstanding as woman found dead and man seriously injured

A property on Dulwich Road in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham has been destroyed after a "massive explosion"

A gas explosion killed a 79-year-old grandmother and destroyed a terraced house was likely caused by an accidental gas leak in the home’s pipework, an investigation has found.

The cause of the fatal blast in Dulwich Road, Birmingham, on 26 June was determined as an “accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework”, police, fire and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officials said in a statement.

Hundreds of people attended a candlelit vigil in memory of Doreen Rees-Bibb, who tragically died in the blast, in Kirkstanding on Sunday (3 July).

Around 200 members of the public attended, with some laying flower tributes and lighting candles in memory.

David Murphy, the partner of Ms Rees-Bibb, was criticially injured and was dug out of the burning rubble by about a dozen members of the public.

He remained in a critical but stable condition in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Thursday.

In a statement, the HSE, West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Police said demolition work had allowed investigators “to safely access and test sections of the property’s internal gas piping”.

The HSE is continuing investigations as to whether any work-related activities contributed towards the incident.

The explosion destroyed a mid-terraced property in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham (Photo: PA)

What happened?

The explosion destroyed a mid-terraced property and left several other homes significantly damaged, along with nearby cars, police said.

West Midlands Police were called to an incident on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding just after 8.30pm on 26 June.

The man who was rescued from the destroyed house, identified as David Murphy, suffered “very significant injuries” and was taken to hospital, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said.

Residents described how they clambered past flaming debris, dust and rubble after the blast and pulled the injured man alive from the ruins of the house.

One man, who declined to give his name, told the PA news agency: “Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in – so we went in the house, me and about a dozen others.

“There was a guy in the back (of the house), we could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen. The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us.

“We managed to get to him, and pull him out – I still have his blood on my jeans.

“We got him out, he ended up coming out on a mattress. But he was saying there was a woman in the house.”

A man who was rescued from the house suffered “very significant injuries” (Photo: SWNS)

Another local resident was said to have “put his own life at risk” by running into the burning house to rescue the injured man, according to his cousin.

@reecew95, Callum Attwood’s cousin Reece, wrote on Twitter: “What happened in Kingstanding tonight is devastating… my cousin saved a life! He’s a hero. I’m so proud of him.

“Get this spread round Twitter!! His actions, Braveness and courage to do what someone else wouldn’t do and put his own life at risk to save a life! Hero CALLUM ATTWOOD.”

Rick Payne, a city councillor for the ward, heard a “massive explosion” while watching television shortly after 8.30pm, and walked across to Dulwich Road to see what had happened.

He said: “I recognised that as probably most likely to be a gas explosion.

“The police are just saying that there’s quite a lot of houses damaged as a result – probably up to five or six houses.

“The house itself, where the explosion occurred, has physically been destroyed. Houses either side have, partially. Then the houses further along the street have been damaged collaterally from the blast.”

Was anyone else injured?

Four other men suffered minor injuries and were assessed by ambulance crews at the scene, WMAS added.

Footage on social media showed flames, damage and debris from a terraced red brick house.

Emergency services evacutated the area, and Dulwich Road and surrounding roads were closed.

Six fire crews, three ambulances, five paramedic officers and a National Inter-Agency Liaison officer were among the resources sent to the scene.

Photos show the extent of debris strewn across Dulwich Road (Photo: RYAN UNDERWOOD)

WMFS area commander Steve Ball, speaking at the scene at the time, said: “Around 8.30pm this evening we were called to a gas explosion in a house.

“On arrival, it was quite a challenging scene, where one house had been completely destroyed, and three neighbouring properties had also been quite badly affected.

“One man had already been rescued, prior to our arrival, and he’s been taken care of by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

“He’s got life-threatening injuries and he’s gone to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham).

“On scene at the moment we’ve got six appliances, we’ve got our technical rescue teams and we’ve also got our fire dog here.”

A WMAS spokesperson added that a man was helped from the destroyed property by people at the scene “but had suffered very serious injuries”.

“After assessment and treatment at the scene, he was taken on blue lights to the major trauma centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with the MERIT team travelling with the ambulance,” they said. “His condition on arrival at hospital was described as life threatening.

“Four further men have been assessed by ambulance crews for minor conditions but have been discharged at the scene.

“Members of the Hazardous Area Response Team continue to work with specialist firefighters at the scene.”