Hero neighbours and firefighters rescued survivors who were trapped after a house exploded – leaving nothing left of it – and wreckage erupted in flames.
Three men rushed into the fiery scene in Ashford and pulled an elderly couple to safety following the suspected gas explosion, which shook homes more than half a mile away, KentLive reports.
A woman who was rescued from the home is 100-years-old, a neighbour said.
Seven people were injured – two of them seriously – and police have confirmed no-one is missing following the blast at a home occupied by an elderly couple.
Neighbours say the house was “completely gone” after they were startled by a “loud bang” and rushed outside to discover and inferno just before 8am on Tuesday.
Dramatic aerial photos revealed the scale of the devastation, including the charred shell of the mid-terrace property that blew up, and heavy damage to two neighbouring homes.
The chimney of the affected property was the only part of the building which was still standing.
Of those injured, two were taken to hospital in London with serious injuries and five were taken to hospital in Ashford with “less serious” injuries. Some neighbouring homes were evacuated as firefighters tackled the blaze.
A neighbour, who knows the people who were injured, said an elderly couple lived in the house that exploded.
A family with children in their teens lived in one of the neighbouring homes, and a couple lived in the other, the woman said.
She told the Mirror: “We heard an enormous explosion and the house shook.
“We went running upstairs and saw the house across from us blown apart and the fire just starting up.
“We was straight on to the fire and emergency services. There was smoke and fire and debris everywhere.
“I’m pretty shaken up at the moment over the while situation, and just hoping they are ok.”
Former support worker Wendy Charman, 57, said: “It’s a 100-year-old woman who lives in the house. Imagine living to that age for this terrible thing to happen. I hope she pulls through.
“Apparently three young men ran in afterwards and pulled her out. They deserve awards.”
Karen Jackson, who lives three doors down, said: “There was a massive explosion.
“We looked out and the whole front of the house was torn off. I could see people out the front needing help to walk.
“They were injured yes, one lady’s trousers were ripped badly.
“They was one elderly lady that needs a lot of help. They were still working on a few of them when we were evacuated.”
‘Volcano of rocks’
Kim Dew, 55, said: “I heard this horrendous bang so I looked behind and there was this volcano of rocks which cascaded over the path.
“I just ran with the dogs as two seconds earlier I would have been under that rubble.
“It was split second timing and has really shaken me up. What if the dog went for a wee or something? I walk that route every single morning at the same time before work.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I was that close to it I could feel the ground going. It was mental.”
The care home manager, who was out walking her dogs, ran back to her Kaylie Bourne, 35, and pounded on the door to get back to safety.
Kaylie said: “”One woman came out of the house and was screaming ‘my parents are in there’.
“I looked out and saw these three men in their 30s who ran in to rescue those inside.
“It was scary as I could see a little flame as they were going in at the bottom before the whole thing eventually erupted with fire.”
Claire Oram, who lives nearby, said: “We looked outside and saw plumes of smoke and soon after you could hear sirens. They were here within minutes.
“I spoke to a friend who said their nephew pulled a man out of one of the houses. I think he was injured. Its awful, an awful incident. I just really hope everyone is ok.”
Chantel Weller, who lives nearby, told the BBC: “We all felt our houses shake along this road. The whole house shook, and it felt like something had blown into the side of it.
“It wasn’t very loud but it was a strange feeling.
“People said they thought it might be a gas explosion, and it looks like the houses have been evacuated .”
Graham Galpin, Conservative candidate for the area, said: “It is a central house in a block of three which we believe belonged to an elderly couple.
“I think there was an act of heroism where a man pulled some people from the wreckage. He was very shaken up by what he saw.
“Somebody told him there were other people in there but he couldn’t get back inside.
“This is a close community and this tragedy will absolutely shock the people that live here.”
Cllr Steve Campkin, who represents the ward for the Green Party, added: “They’ve closed most of the road off as there’s a risk of asbestos.
“The house is completely gone. It’s absolutely awful.
“Emergency services have been absolutely magnificent.
“We’ve opened up the two churches for teas and coffees for them and those who have been evacuated.”
Canvassing has been suspended for the day ahead of local elections in light of the major incident.