Emergency services were called to the scene on Mallowdale Avenue at about 2.40am on Sunday, May 16th. Emergency responders attended and found two houses collapsed with serious damage to a third property.
Very sadly toddler George Arthur Hinds, aged two years and 10 months, died as a result of the blast. George’s parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were also injured. They were taken to the hospital but have now been discharged. They continue to be supported by specially trained officers from Lancashire Police.
Two other people – a man aged 44 and a woman aged 50 - remain in hospital with injuries described as critical.
Detectives from Lancashire Police, assisted by gas experts, have been carrying out a fingertip search of the scene following the explosion and have now identified the cause of the explosion as a gas pipe that had been cut inside No. 20, Mallowdale Avenue.
According to a statement issued by the Police, enquiries are ongoing into how and why the pipe came to be severed – an investigation described by the Police as an enquiry likely to "take some considerable time".
Lancashire Police have also confirmed that the enquiry is now being classed as a criminal investigation.
Detective Chief Insp Jane Webb, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “My thoughts first and foremost remain with George’s family and loved ones at this time, as well as those others affected by this incident.
“An incredible amount of work has been done at the scene in a relatively short space of time and as well as identifying the source of the explosion we have also managed to recover some items of George’s, which I know means a lot to his parents.
“Our focus now is on trying to establish how and why the pipe inside No. 20 came to be cut and those enquiries are complex and lengthy.
“I would like to thank the community for their help so far and I want to continue to appeal to anyone who may have information that could assist our investigation to come forward and contact us. Even if you think the information you have is insignificant or irrelevant please tell us and we can be the judge."
Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 quoting log 0180 of May 16th or on the Major Incident Portal at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/0401020121W04-PO1
Alternatively, contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.