Fireball engulfed firefighters in explosion in Hull - but they walked away uninjured

The scene following the explosion
The scene following the explosion
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A firefighter told of his miraculous escape after being engulfed in a fireball and gas explosion at a house in Hull.

The explosion blew the upstairs and downstairs bay windows out of the terraced property in Beverley Road, showering firefighters outside with debris.

Lewis Nicklin

Lewis Nicklin

Lewis Nicklin, 31, who was living in a rented groundfloor flat, was found unconscious inside and later died.

An inquest heard his death was caused by a cocktail of drugs he'd taken, including codeine, cocaine, cannabis, diazepam, amphetamines and heroin and breathing in high levels of poisonous carbon monoxide.

Emergency services were called to the house on March 10, were initially unable to find the seat of the fire, but tracked it down to the cooker in the kitchen.

Firefighters Andy Winfield and Andy Grant were directing a hose at the oven, when there was a huge blast.

Mr Winfield told the hearing: "As soon as we opened the water, there was a massive explosion, a fireball that rolled over Andy's and my head.

" I describe it as being in an underground train station where a train is just flying past and doesn't stop.

"It just whooshed past us, destroying everything. I could hear smashing all the way outside."

He added: "It's very strange. It didn't knock me off my feet."

Both had precautionary checks, but didn't need treatment.

An investigation by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service found the electric oven had been turned on, with large quantities of foil-backed alcohol swabs, of the type used to sterilise skin before an injection, inside.

They caught fire, creating sufficient heat to melt an alloy fitting on a gas pipe feeding a hob on the worktop, allowing gas to be released.

The firefighters' actions had introduced oxygen into the scene causing it to ignite.

However the Health and Safety Executive said there had to be caution about the fire service's conclusion because key evidence, several components, were missing from the scene.

The inquest heard the gas safety certificate had expired, but a gas engineer said he had made several visits, but had been unable to get in to do the annual inspection.

Steve Critchlow, from the HSE, said: "It's equally plausible that there was a pre-existing leak."

Mr Nicklin's mother Karen said she was would never get over the death of Lewis, whose twin brother Liam, was in court along with other family members.

Although happy go lucky, the father of two, who "absolutely loved his kids," had bouts of depression and had been badly affected by his grandmother's murder in 1994.

In a statement read to the court Mrs Nicklin said they were all devastated: "Part of my heart has gone. I will never get over our loss.

"He was like a little boy lost. He was vulnerable. I can't believe he has gone."

Coroner Prof Paul Marks returned a verdict of accidental death. He said the drugs may have left Mr Nicklin in a stupor "not noticing the fire or taking evasive action."