A man has died in an horrific explosion that destroyed a house in Chorley, in Lancashire.
The suspected gas explosion “burned the house to a cinder” within half an hour, according to witnesses, and the building has since collapsed.
A police force spokesperson said: "We can now sadly confirm that one person has died, believed at this stage to be a man in his 50s.
"His next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.”
Emergency services arrived on the scene on Kirkby Avenue in Clayton-le-Woods within minutes of receiving reports of an explosion at around 1.30pm this afternoon.
A police spokesperson said: ”A joint investigation between Lancashire Police and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service into the cause of the incident remains in its early stages and is on-going.
"A cordon remains in place around the property.
"Local authority partners are assisting with welfare for a number of people evacuated from neighbouring properties."
A statement from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Six fire engines and an aerial ladder platform are in attendance at an explosion involving a house on Kirkby Avenue in Clayton-le-Woods.
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Neighbour Barry Kemp told The Sun: “There was a massive explosion and the house burst into flames.
“Within 30 minutes the house was burnt to a cinder.
"There was nothing left of it. It sounded like a bomb going off.
“I have never seen a house collapse so quickly.”
His wife Ingrid said she heard an "almighty bang" while ironing.
“I looked out of the window and there were flames coming from the lounge," she said.
A spokesman for Lancashire’s gas emergency service Cadent said: “We are at the scene of this incident to support the emergency services and ensure everything related to gas is safe.
"It is too early to say what caused this.
"We’ll thoroughly check the local gas network and we will support the authorities as they look into all possible causes”.
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