Thornton Heath: girl, 4, dies after gas explosion destroys house in London

Three other children were rescued from the house moments after the blast

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A house has collapsed in south London, killing a four-year-old girl and injuring three people following a gas explosion and fire.

The London Ambulance Service confirmed the girl had died after the incident in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath on Monday morning.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police said the girl's next of kin had been informed.

It comes after residents said they reported a strong gas smell in the area, which had persisted for about two weeks.

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire and explosion has not yet been confirmed and an investigation is under way.

“This morning, alongside colleagues from London Fire Brigade, we attended an incident in Galpin’s Road, Thornton Heath," said a London Ambulance Service representative.

“We treated four people. One was discharged on scene and three others were taken to hospital. Sadly, a child was also pronounced dead at the scene.

“All London Ambulance Service crews have now been stood down.”

London Fire Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner Richard Welch said no other searches for anyone else were being undertaken after the confirmation of the young girl's death.

Galpin’s Road residents Delroy Simms, 62, and Kutoya Kukanda, 50, have been called “heroes” after they rescued three children from the house moments after the blast.

“I was getting ready to go to work when I heard the explosion," Mr Simms, dressed in his pyjamas by the cordon, told PA.

“I already knew what it was because that gas was smelling all week, really strong. It was giving me a headache yesterday.

“My neighbour has been calling them (gas engineers) all week.”

“When I heard the explosion it was like an earthquake.

“It shook me up, and my house. The shutters on our windows blew off their hinges.

“I went to the window and saw the devastation.”

Another resident described the children who lived in the house as “lively” and “happy”.

Maureen Clare, 74, told PA that there were four children and a mother living in the terrace house in Croydon.

“They’re very lively kids," Ms Clare told PA, who lives opposite and was visibly shaken by the incident.

“They were always mischievous, happy and bouncing around.”

“Firefighters carried out a search of the property and sadly, a child was pronounced dead at the scene," Mr Welch said.

“Our thoughts are with their family, friends and the local community at this time.”

About 40 properties have been evacuated as a precaution by LFB and a 50-metre police cordon is in place.

Dozens of residents gathered beside the cordon on the end of the street hours after the explosion, which was reported at 7.08am.

Several residents also raised concerns for a woman living in the house next door, which was damaged by the blast, after her husband was seen searching for her.

Responding to the claim over residents smelling gas in a press conference, Mr Welch said: “Unfortunately we can’t say if it’s gas that’s caused it. It will become a police investigation now.

“We dealt with the emergency phase of the incident and we will be handing it over to local authorities and local police.”

Neighbours added that engineers had been working on the street, but had not been seen for a few days.

“Following the explosion in Galpin’s Road, Thornton Heath, earlier today, our deepest sympathies are with the family of the child who has tragically died as well as those who have been injured," a spokeswoman from gas distribution company SGN, which is the gas emergency service in the area, said.

“We’d like to reassure everyone that our engineers are working closely with the emergency services to establish the cause of the explosion. Given the ongoing police investigation, it is inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

A neighbour of the family that lost the four-year-old girl have described the child as “lovely”.

“The little girl was very nice. She would wave at you through the window and we would wave back,” the woman, who did not wish to be named, told PA.

“I’m so sorry for the little girl, she was lovely."

The woman said she spoke to the mother just after the explosion, saying: “She was shaking and she was in a terrible way.”

She also spoke about how workmen had been coming into their house in recent days, drilling holes into their dinning room floor to look for the gas leak.

“They could have turned off the gas,” she said. “Our windows are gone, the roof is destroyed. The place is full of holes, enormous big holes. I do not wish this on anyone.”

Updated: August 09, 2022, 5:28 AM