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Gas explosion residents return to revamped homes in Oak Tree Road, South Ashford

By Kristina Curtis

A block of maisonettes in Ashford has been rebuilt, more than two years after they were destroyed in a gas explosion.

Eight council-owned homes were destroyed after the blast started a fire that spread through the properties in Oak Tree Road, South Ashford, on June 15, 2015.

No one was seriously injured in the fire. However, one resident was treated in hospital for burns and 10 people were made homeless.

The badly damaged properties in Oak Tree Road have been demolished and replaced
The badly damaged properties in Oak Tree Road have been demolished and replaced

The emergency services and local authorities had to ensure people in the area were safe and had shelter and that the building was secure. Work was also done to recover and store as many of the residents’ possessions as possible.

Now, the property is once again habitable and Ashford borough councillors and officers, as well as representatives of the contractors who have been involved in the reconstruction, have planted a tree to mark the end of the project.

Ashford Borough Council deputy portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Aline Hicks, puts the finishing touches to some tree planting
Ashford Borough Council deputy portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Aline Hicks, puts the finishing touches to some tree planting

Eight one-bedroom flats, of a similar design to the former properties, have replaced the destroyed ones.

The flats on the first floor, as well as the roof, have been completely renewed, while the ground floor flats have been refurbished.

Tracey Robinson, a resident in one of the original maisonettes, has returned to Oak Tree Road, she said: “Though I lost a lot of possessions, some of which are irreplaceable, I wanted to come back here.

“It is totally different to how it was before and I like the larger living room. I’ve met all of my new neighbours and everyone seems lovely.”

Cllr Gerald White, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “I am pleased that we are now at a point where the final chapter can be written in this most unfortunate incident.

“Once again, we thank nearby residents for their patience and support during the last two years and trust that the new tenants of these homes will enjoy living in this community.”

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