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Couple's lucky escape as gas explosion blows out windows of Telscombe Cliffs house
A couple had a lucky escape as they stepped out minutes before an explosion from a gas leak blew out the windows of their home.
The pair left their house in Grassmere Avenue to walk their dogs just minutes before an explosion lit up the front of their home.
The gas leak forced firefighters to evacuate up to 20 homes in the street as they set up a 50 meter cordon around the blaze.
Scene of crime officers from Sussex Police and fire investigation officers from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are continuing to investigate whether there are any suspicious circumstances to the leak.
A neighbour spotted black smoke and flames rising from the detached bungalow at just before 8pm on Sunday night and ran up to Telscombe Tye to alert the couple who were walking their dogs.
Two crews from Newhaven and Roedean fire stations spent about 45 minutes tackling the blaze while engineers from gas distribution company Southern Gas Networks worked to stem the leak.
Residents including a tenth month old baby and pensioners were evacuated from nearby houses in for almost three hours while emergency services investigated the incident.
Neighbour Doreen Wernham said her daughter and son-in-law, Russ and Sarah Wilkins, were the first to spot the fire.
She said: “They came over and said there’s lots of smoke from over the road.
“We saw flames coming out and heard the glass breaking.
“We saw the couple go out with their dogs and so Russ and Sarah went out on to The Tye and told them their house was on fire.
“At first the couple thought they were shouting to someone else.
“My son-in-law and daughter then brought them and the dogs back in their car.”
Neighbours were initially told to get inside their houses before being told they would have to evacuate.
Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “We heard the fire engines first and then saw a lot of black smoke and heard big bangs.
“At first we feared the residents were in there and we hoped they would be alright.”
Resident Faye Heffernan, 37, was evacuated from her home along with husband Aaron and two-year-old son Felix.
She said: “The first thing I was told was when a fireman knocked on the door and said there is a gas leak, you need to get out.
“My two-year-old was in bed so I had to wake him up and one of the neighbours took us in for about three hours.”
Paul Coppard, watch commander at Roedean Fire Station, said: “Flames came from the gas intake box and went up to the rooms above burning the exterior.
“The people weren’t in at the time, they arrived back at about the same time of us, and it was reported by a passer-by.
“Southern Gas Network engineers arrived quickly and we worked in conjunction with them and the risk of an explosion was controlled.”
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