A family of four are in hospital in a ‘serious condition’ today following an explosion which ripped through a housing estate in Ayr last night.
The blast, on Gorse Park in Kincaidston, caused devastation and sparked a major emergency response call as four homes were affected just after 7pm – with shockwaves felt and heard for miles.
A 43-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy are currently being treated at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary.
Meanwhile, a 47-year-old male is at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital while an 11-year-old boy is receiving care at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Nine fire appliances attended the scene as terrified neighbours in nearby properties were evacuated to safety. People were told to stay away from the area.
Police and fire crews remained on the scene this morning as a huge clean-up operation got underway, with residents working tirelessly to remove wreckage and debris from their streets, homes and cars.
Chief Inspector Derrick Johnson, area commander for South Ayrshire, said enquiries are in their early stages but a gas explosion is a line of enquiry being followed.
He said: “Investigations are continuing following an explosion within a housing estate in Ayr.
“This is a complex incident and a number of different agencies are working together to establish the full circumstances of what happened.
“Our thoughts are with the family and everyone within the local community affected by this.
“A joint investigation with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been carried out.”
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service area commander Ian McMeekin said: “Our thoughts are very much with all those who have been affected by this incident.
“This is an extremely challenging and complex incident and at its height we had nine appliances in attendance.
“There is significant damage to the properties and surrounding area.
“There’s been a number of properties affected; some where we have severe structural damage and some other properties have been affected by the blast.
“We now have two appliances in attendance and we are working with our partners to ensure the area maintains its safety.
“We’ll be working alongside Police Scotland and partners to establish the facts of the circumstances.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the community for their support and understanding during this time.”
Gas supplier SGN has said it’s too early to determine what caused the huge explosion and added that, “engineers are continuing to work with the emergency services to ensure the immediate vicinity is made safe in our role as the gas emergency service.”
The community banded together to help those in need, opening up places of shelter including Queen Margaret Academy, the town’s Mercure Hotel, Kincaidston Community Pavilion and Ayr St Columba Church.
Kind-hearted residents dropped off blankets, food and bottled water for those affected while the community pavilion fed fire crews who worked tirelessly throughout.
It is not known how long residents who have been evacuated will remain out of their homes for.
A statement from South Ayrshire Council said: “At the moment, the council is working with emergency services to determine who will be able to return to their house and who will not due to ongoing building safety concerns.
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“Our aim is to get people back home as soon as possible but we can only do this once we are confident properties are safe. Once we know who may still require accommodation, our housing teams will work with residents to support them.
“Council staff are at the Mercure Hotel working with those accommodated there.
“Anyone else affected can contact the council at 0300 123 0900.”
Locals described the noise as sounding like a bomb going off with chaotic scenes on the estate resembling ‘ground zero’.
Chris McNicol, 40, who lives in nearby Thistle Walk, was just one of many heroic first responders who rushed out to help find those injured after the blast.
“It was like no noise I’ve ever heard before in my life,” he said. “I ran to my back door, at first I thought it was a car that had exploded.
“It was just trainers on and I’m away out [to help]."
As Chris ran towards the rubble, he could see an injured child in a garden, and a man’s arm reaching out from under debris.
He said: “When I got there it was just his [the child’s] foot that was stuck in the debris and we were trying to get things moved to free him.
“I wouldn’t say he was crying with pain, but it was the fear.
“There was a guy already searching, and he asked if there was anyone else injured. Then he got folk to quieten down so he could actually hear if someone was shouting.
“I could see a hand out the rubble. I think it was definitely an adult. We only got the kid out but it was the fire service who did the rest.
“We were told it wasn’t safe and you don’t want more people getting involved and getting injured as well."
After helping neighbours at the scene, Chris then went to work an eight-hour shift at Ayr’s McDonald’s.
And he was back on hand the following morning to ensure friends, neighbours and loved ones were safe.
He added: “It’s later on that it hits you. You see this on the news but you never think it’ll happen.”
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