Southall gas explosion: Father hails hero firefighter who rescued baby daughter after fatal blast

John Dunne, Barney Davis
·3-min read
Sukhdev Singh has praised the "hero" firefighter for saving his daughter Manseerat: PA/Sukhdev Sing
Sukhdev Singh has praised the "hero" firefighter for saving his daughter Manseerat: PA/Sukhdev Sing

A father today hailed the “hero” firefighter who plucked his baby daughter to safety after a suspected gas explosion ripped through their west London flat.

Sukhdev Singh, 39, told how “we thought we were going to die” as he scrambled among the debris with his wife and child following the blast in Southall, west London, at 6.30am on Wednesday.

Two people are known to have died in the explosion , which destroyed a phone shop and neighbouring hair salon in King Street. Investigators were still trawling through rubble last night to make sure there were no more casualties.

On Wednesday, the Evening Standard published a photo of a young firefighter cradling Mr Sing’s five-month-old daughter Manseerat after rescuing her from the ruined building .

Saved: the baby being carried to safety
Saved: the baby being carried to safety

“There was a huge explosion. We thought we were going to die,” Mr Singh said.

“There was dust everywhere. My concern was to get my daughter out. We were scared, then out of the dust came the fireman who took my daughter.

"He was a real hero, I can’t thank him enough. He saved my daughter’s life.”

He and his wife Jasbir, 30, were then shepherded to safety and sought refuge in a nearby temple. The family are now staying with friends as firefighters and police investigate the cause of the blast.

Mr Singh added: “It’s a miracle we are alive and we would like to thank the fire service and the local temple for helping us.

The blast ripped sent shattered glass flying across the street (PA)
The blast ripped sent shattered glass flying across the street (PA)

“I keep looking at my daughter and smiling that she is well and fine. That is the most important thing. I will never forget we nearly lost everything including our lives.”

Harmeet Singh, of the Southall Singh Sabha Gurdwara temple, said: “The firefighters did so well. As a community, we thank you. The family are all OK. We are trying to support the community In the best way we can at this difficult time. “

After the blast, a man was seen jumping from a first-floor window. Another was badly injured by falling debris as one of the flats above the mobile phone store collapsed.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that an “early assessment suspected the cause to be a gas explosion”, but that the “exact cause at this time is not yet known.” Officers from Scotland Yard and the London Fire Brigade are investigating.

Jatinder Singh’s Mobile phone business Dr Phone was completely destroyed by the blast.

He said: “I don’t know how to explain how I’m feeling. I have lost everything. I don’t know what to say — I’m in shock. I’m really scared that now I don’t know how to survive.”

Another neighbour said the explosion “shook the bones” of her house, and “sounded like a bomb had gone off”.

The Met spokesperson said: “Emergency services entered the building and sadly, two people were pronounced dead at the scene.

“Formal identification has not taken place, and next of kin have not been informed.

“Work is ongoing to ensure the building is structurally sound before emergency services are able to fully determine whether there may be further casualties.

“An early assessment suspected the cause to be a gas explosion. The exact cause at this time is not yet known.“

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Two dead after suspected gas blast at shop in west London