Hero Jarrow scaffolders rescued man from exploded home damaged so badly it was like 'nuclear bomb' had gone off

Three hero scaffolders from Jarrow dug a man from the rubble of an exploded home so badly destroyed they said it was like "nuclear bomb had gone off".

TeessideLive reported how the trio were on the scene in Park End, Middlesbrough and they helped rescue a man who has been badly burned. The trio were working on high scaffolding opposite the Kirkland Walk home and were left shaken after the semi-detached house blew up in front of their eyes.

Tony Calvert, Rob Freeman and James McTaggart could hear screaming and, not thinking of their own safety, ran towards the blast zone - at the time they feared children could be trapped. Rob ran into the adjoining house and helped a female occupant to safety, while Tony and James searched for the source of the screaming.

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Tony, 34, said: "We were first there and then people started to come out, we were shouting at everyone to get back because we were frightened there could be a secondary explosion. We were terrified there could be children in there.

"We realised the screaming and cries for help were coming from the exploded house. The man was at the front door buried in rubble. We started lifting all the rubble off him and we could barely make him out because he was so burnt."

Hero scaffolders (l-r) James McTaggart, Tony Calvert and Rob Freeman, who were on the scene at the Park End house blast
Hero scaffolders (l-r) James McTaggart, Tony Calvert and Rob Freeman, who were on the scene at the Park End house blast -Credit:UGC

The dad-of-two said this was when others started to arrive at the scene and help with the rescue. Following the incident, a 57-year-old was airlifted to hospital with "severe burns". He is said to remain in a critical condition at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

The incident unfolded at around 12.40pm on Tuesday and Tony said it was like nothing he had ever seen before. He added: "The whole house just exploded, it was like a nuclear bomb had gone off. It was like something you see in the movies and not like anything I have ever seen before, it was a shocking experience.

Rob, 36, Tony and 21-year-old James, who all hail from Jarrow and work for Premier Scaffolding in Hebburn, were working on the Hastings House Care Home and overlooking the house.

Tony said: "There was a wooshing sound like air being sucked in and then a millisecond later the house exploded and then there was just a mushroom cloud of smoke and debris. Then instantly we heard screaming and saw the house was on fire."

He said although the house adjacent seemed to be ok from the front, the back of it was blown off.

Tony said the trio just acted instinctively in running towards the blast to see if they could help, but it wasn't until they were safely at home with their families the enormity of the situation hit them. And, being back on site at the care home today and seeing the aftermath is strange.

A fleet of emergency service vehicles flocked to the scene as residents looked on. Police said twelve houses were affected by the explosion, and houses in Kirkland Walk and nearby Errington Avenue evacuated.

Today an investigation is continuing into the cause of the explosion and a structural assessment is taking place over the future of the houses.