Witnesses describe blast scene as gas explosion puts five in hospital in Batley

The scene in Batley where a suspected gas explosion happened. Photo: Baz Bunn
The scene in Batley where a suspected gas explosion happened. Photo: Baz Bunn

Witnesses have descirbed the scene of a gas explosion in Batley which resulted in five people being taken to hospital.

Paul Tinker, 49, watched on from the police cordon attempting to see if any damage had been caused to his wife Sharon's florist - which was just "five yards" from the explosion.

Down To Earth Florist is directly behind the block of flats in which a suspected gas explosion occurred on Wednesday night.

Paul rushed down to the scene but was stopped by police and has had no access to assess any damage which may have been caused.

He said the block of flats was originally a HSBC bank before becoming a nightclub.

When Paul's wife Sharon bought the florist around two and a half years ago, work was commencing on converting the club into residential flats.

He said the explosion had rocked the whole community and told how if the blast would've been just one week later, his wife would have been working in preparation for Valentine's Day.

Paul, from Ossett, West Yorkshire said: "I am so glad my wife wasn't in there.

"I have heard it was a gas explosion.

"The explosion is next to my wife's shop, it is about five yards away."

Paul said he was very worried about the state the florist may be in following the explosion.

He added: "There have been so many emergency services here.

"A lot of them have left as well, at least three fire engines have gone.

"There was so much traffic and so many people stuck behind the cordon.

"For us it is just the not knowing what has happened which is the worst thing.

"I don't know what damage it will have caused to our business.

"I just hope everyone is safe, I have heard some staff from a nearby business were working a late shift so I hope they are okay."

A number of people suffered burns in the blast and a subsequent fire.

None of those involved are thought to have life-threatening injuries.

The explosion happened at about 6.50pm in a two-storey building that has been described as a “block of converted flats”.

Kirklees Council’s emergency planning team has attended the scene, along with police, fire and ambulance crews.

A police cordon has been put in place around the affected building and a number of roads are closed.

Giving an update on the incident, West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Insp Wayne Horner said: “I understand that this will have caused concern amongst the community.

“Residents can be reassured that police along with our partners from the other emergency services are on scene.”

In a statement, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fire is now out, and any remaining pockets of fire are being extinguished should they appear.

“The incident was initially attended by 10 fire engines however this is being reduced to five.

“Firefighters are likely to be on the scene overnight and there are some concerns over the structural stability of the building.

"Investigations are continuing into the cause of the explosion.

“Road closures remain in place and we advise people to avoid the area if possible.”