Man (63) dies after 'gas explosion' destroys house in Haxby near York
A 63-year-old man has died after a suspected gas explosion obliterated a house in Haxby, near York, police said.
An officer at the scene told reporters that they believe the man is a resident of the address and have informed "various members of his family".
"Formal identification is yet to take place. It will be some time before we can retrieve the body as the scene is still in a state of disarray. We need to be sure everyone is safe before doing that," he added.
Emergency services were called to the detached building this morning.
They said they believed the cause to be a gas explosion but this has not been confirmed yet.
"Both properties either side are quite badly damaged," said a North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue representative at the scene.
He described the affected property as a "pile of rubble at the moment".
He added: "It has all the signs of a gas explosion but we cannot confirm that until we get the investigation under way."
The fire service will also be working with structural engineers to ascertain if the properties either side of the destroyed home are at risk of collapse themselves.
Emergency services are looking to isolate the gas supply. Currently the electricity board have switched off power within a 200-metre radius of the incident.
Officers will be working with Northern Gas Networks to investigate the possible cause of the incident.
Inspector Steve Breen of North Yorkshire Police said at the scene that there is nothing suspicious about the circumstances of the incident at the moment, but that they will be doing a "full investigation to make sure that nothing is missed".
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police confirmed they were called to the scene at around 7.30am.
More than 30 firefighters were also deployed - working to extinguish several small blazes on arrival before conducting a search of the scene.
The urban search and rescue team are also in attendance as well as Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who checked over two further people at the scene, although they did not require hospital treatment.
Windows in the neighbouring houses in the leafy residential cul-de-sac were blown out and debris scattered across the road and gardens.
Neighbours said the blast was heard across the area this morning.
The explosion sounded like a crash, one local said.
The man, who did not wish to be named, was around 150 yards away at the time and described the loud bang which he said had "flattened" the property and damaged others nearby.
"The house has been completely flattened. It sounded as if a bus or something had crashed into a house, or like an aeroplane crash," he told the Press Association.
"All the properties adjacent to the one that's blown up have got damaged windows and garages."
A neighbour said she felt the explosion from a street away.
She said: "There was a tremendous bang this morning. It shook the bed and the whole house."
Windows at St Margaret Clitherow Church in nearby Holly Tree Lane and the presbytery are also understood to have been damaged.
Other local residents also reported their houses were shaken by the blast, which some thought was an earthquake.
Sophie Pea tweeted: "Wtf I swear something just exploded in Haxby. My whole house just shook."