‘Hero’ father and son rescue pensioners from rubble after Kent explosion

Sean Morrison
·2-min read
Willesborough incident (PA Wire)
Willesborough incident (PA Wire)

A father and son have been hailed as heroes for saving three people from a burning row of houses following a huge explosion in Kent.

Andy and Harry Hodges reportedly saved a 99-year-old woman, her 75-year-old son and their neighbour from their homes following the blast.

The construction workers were driving past the house in Willesborough in Ashford when they witnessed the aftermath of the explosion on Tuesday.

Watch: Aerials capture the site of house explosion

Two people were airlifted to hospital and a further five hurt. Dramatic photos show the smoking ruin of a house among rubble strewn across the residential street.

The Hodges ran through a gaping hole where the front of Ethel Hanford’s house had been. 

Andy grabbed Mrs Hanford and lifted her over his shoulders, the Mail was told, and passed her to his son Harry, 22, who helped her over to a nearby patch of grass.

The pair also escorted her son Donald to safety.

They so dashed next door after hearing shouts for help. 

They kicked the door down and found 22-year-old Shannon Pankhurstat the top of the stairs trying to reach her parents who were trapped in their bedroom.

The Hodges helped Shannon to safety but were unable to reach her parents. However, fire crews in breathing apparatus were able to rescue them.

Mrs Hanford was among those who were rushed to hospital for treatment. It is understood that she suffered burns to her face.

Her son also suffered burns and is to be transferred to a specialist burns unit.

A relative of Mrs Hanford and her son told the Mail: “We'd like to thank the heroes - especially Andy Hodges - for saving their lives. 

“They deserve lots of credit for their bravery.”


Much of a house was destroyed in the explosion, with the chimney remaining standing.

Firefighters from seven fire engines tackled the blaze.

Members of the public have been urged to avoid the area and residents nearby were asked to keep their windows closed.

Firefighters were called to Mill View at 7.57am.

A spokesman from the South East Coast Ambulance Service said: “Two patients have been taken to hospital in London with serious injuries.

“A further five patients have been taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries thought to be less serious.”

Watch: Hero jumps off bridge to save child thrown from truck

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