Last Update:
Friday 19th August, 2005

With Google

Estate rocked as explosion rips through flat

The scene after the explosion on an Archway estate

Chris Dennehy

Thomas McHale

HEROIC neighbours dragged a burning man from his Archway flat after a massive gas explosion on Tuesday night.
Daniel Jacobson, 42, suffered 90 per cent burns in the blast in Girdlestone Walk.
Neighbours said the explosion blew windows 30 feet into gardens. Father-of-three Chris Dennehy, 41, said: “We were at the top of the road and the explosion shook the pavement.
“I ran down and saw flames pouring out and a few of the lads inside trying to drag out the bloke. We got him out, he was quite a big bloke. He was smouldering, in shock and couldn’t speak. We hosed him down using water and a fire extinguisher.”
British Gas said there were no gas appliances in the house, only gas central heating. Sources told the Tribune that investigators were looking at the possibility that a gas pipe had been pulled off the wall in a possible suicide attempt. Homes for Islington (HfI), which looks after the estate, confirmed the cause of the explosion was gas but said it “was not a maintenance issue”. Residents said Mr Jacobson moved into the flat two years ago after receiving treatment at the Whittington Hopsital’s nearby psychiactric unit. He did not speak to many residents on the close-knit estate. Many reported seeing him only when he left his first-floor maisonette to go shopping.
The front and rear walls of the four-storey 1970s-built block were blown out in the explosion.
Fire crews from Kentish Town and Holloway took nearly an hour to bring the blaze under control.
Simon Loizon, a 30-year-old British Gas engineer, was visiting his mother-in-law when he heard the explosion.
He said: “It was pretty scary because at first everyone though it was a terrorist bomb.
“Four or five guys kicked down the door and pulled him out, they were really brave.
“He was unconscious and burned from head to toe.”
A woman living across the way from Mr Jacobson was blown out of a chair by the force of the explosion.
Next-door neighbour Thomas McHale, 56, had his TV blown towards the ceiling, the flat flooded and china ornaments smashed by the explosion.
Mr McHale, a lorry driver, said: “My wife ran to the back gate crying. I just grabbed my garden hose and tried to douse things down.”
He added: “The force of the blast was so strong it buckled every window and door frame in the house.”
Mr Jacobson, who suffered “life-threatening injuries”, was transferred to the severe burns unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Police initially feared the explosion to be terror-related. Officers were last night still investigating the cause of the blast.
Nine Girdlestone Walk families had to spend the night in temporary accommodation.
Structural engineers, accompanied by police, fire investigators, British Gas, HfI representatives and councillors spent Wednesday examining the block.
All content © New Journal Enterprises, 2005