Police have issued an update on their investigation following the tragic house explosion that killed 91-year-old Frank Burton. The widower was found dead in his home after the blast in Brownley Road, Wythenshawe, last night (Thursday).
Greater Manchester Police had suggested that there were reports of a gas explosion. However, in a new statement issued at around 3.30pm today, April 1, the force has emphasized that the cause is yet to be determined and that investigations are still in their early stages.
Emergency services attended after reports of a fire and explosion at the house on Brownley Road at about 6.30pm. Sadly, a man – believed to be in his 90s – was then located deceased inside a property.
A number of houses were evacuated and the scene made safe at about 8pm. Greater Manchester Police bosses have now appealed to anyone with information about the blast to come forward, adding that they believe it to be a ‘contained incident’.
Frank Burton’s family paid tribute to him at the scene this morning as investigations continued, describing him as ‘a character and a good guy’. His brother of him Philip said he feared that his sibling of him-a dad-of-two-may have bought an appliance to ‘help with the cold snap in anticipation of rising energy bills’-and that it may have sparked the blast.
Detective Inspector Matthew Dixon, of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said in this afternoon’s statement: “Firstly, my thoughts are with the deceased man’s family.
“Although we believe the deceased man was the occupant of the house he hasn’t been formally identified yet. His family has been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
“Our investigations with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive are at an early stage as we try and determine the cause of the explosion.
“It is believed this was a self-contained incident and there is no threat to surrounding properties. I would like to thank the people who live in Brownley Road and the surrounding community for their patience on a very difficult night.
“Many families were displaced last night but are back in their homes today, and the properties either side have not been damaged. Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 101 quoting log 2418 of 03/31/2022.”
Mr Burton’s brother told of how he believes the explosion could have been caused by a new appliance. He said: “The explosion is typical of gas. Whether that’s mains gas, or if he had something in to help with the cold snap and anticipating rise in energy, he may have bought something.”
An appliance may have been left on and could have sparked the explosion the Manchester Evening News understands, though this has not been confirmed by officials. Cadent workers, fire officers and police remain at the house this afternoon.
Mark Threader, borough commander for Manchester for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and Mark Dixon, Detective Inspector at GMP, both spoke from the scene and said that investigations were in the early stages.
“As things stand at the moment, we are in the phase of making the premises safe so we can carry out investigations. GMFRS, GMP and Cadent gas are working closely together to try and find out what caused the incident”, Mr Threader said.
A major incident was declared for a short time last night before it was stood down by emergency services. A large cordon was put in place on Brownley Road as some residents were evacuated from their homes.
At the scene, DI Dixon added that he had been told by the fire service that the incident was ‘isolated’. He said: “This was specific to that premises and there is not a wider risk to other properties. We’re keeping an open mind and exploring all lines of inquiry.”
This afternoon, a small cord remains in place on the pavement in front of the badly damaged house. Several emergency services vehicles remain at the scene.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.