Police investigating a gas explosion that killed a two-year-old boy said it was caused by a gas pipe cut inside a neighbouring home.
George Arthur Hinds, aged two years and 10 months, died while two other people are in a critical condition in hospital following the explosion that wiped out his home on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham, Lancashire.
Police have now launched a criminal investigation into the boy’s death after a fingertip search of the wreckage revealed the severed pipe as the cause.
Officers found two houses collapsed with serious damage to a third property on Mallowdale Avenue at about 2.40am on Sunday, May 16.
George’s parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were also injured, although not seriously. They have now been discharged from hospital.
Two other people – a man aged 44 and a woman aged 50 - remain in hospital with injuries described as critical.
Police confirmed the severed pipe was discovered in the home of the two people who remain in hospital, the neighbouring property to the house where Mr Hinds and Ms Studholme lived with George.
Det Chf Insp Jane Webb, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “My thoughts first and foremost remain with George’s family and loved ones at this time, as well as those others affected by this incident.
“An incredible amount of work has been done at the scene in a relatively short space of time and as well as identifying the source of the explosion we have also managed to recover some items of George’s, which I know means a lot to his parents.
“Our focus now is on trying to establish how and why the pipe inside No. 20 came to be cut and those enquiries are complex and lengthy.
“I would like to thank the community for their help so far and I want to continue to appeal to anyone who may have information which could assist our investigation to come forward and contact us. Even if you think the information you have is insignificant or irrelevant please tell us and we can be the judge.”
George was described as an "beautiful little angel" by his parents.
Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 quoting log 0180 of May 16th or on the Major Incident Portal at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/0401020121W04-PO1Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.