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Ashford explosion: Father and son rescue three people from burning wreckage


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A builder and his son have already gone back to work the morning after saving the lives of three people caught in an explosion.

The heroics of Andy Hodges and his son Harry saw them run into the burning building in Ashford yesterday following the devastating explosion.

Andy and Harry Hodges saved three people after the explosion
Andy and Harry Hodges saved three people after the explosion

A total of seven people were injured in the incident in Mill View, Willesborough, with two being airlifted to a London hospital with serious injuries.

The pair, both in plastering and construction, had been driving to work when the blast happened.

Mr Hodges said: "We didn't actually hear the explosion itself, we had the radio on, but we drove around the corner and suddenly there were bits of insulation floating down.

"We quickly realised, 'oh my God, this has just happened', and then we saw the building.

"There was a lady in her dressing gown, and we got out of the van and asked her if people were still in there and she said yes.

The immediate aftermath of the explosion in Mill View, Willesborough
The immediate aftermath of the explosion in Mill View, Willesborough

"After that, it was all instinctive really. If I had paused to mull it over, I wouldn't have let my boy come in with me, but if he hadn't then we wouldn't have got anyone out."

The pair dashed into the ruined building and recovered Donald Hanford, 75, before going back in and recovering his mother, 99-year-old Ethel.

Mr Hodges, 56, said: "It was absolutely horrific, it was almost apocalyptic.

"There were patches of fire everywhere, although it hadn't taken hold yet fully – the back of the kitchen had caved in and there was a waterfall caused by the damage to the bathroom upstairs.

"We found the man in what would have been the front hallway, and guided him out, before he told us his mother was further inside.

The scene of the explosion yesterday evening
The scene of the explosion yesterday evening

"She was sat on a kitchen chair, she had a nasty cut and her hair was singed. I had to pick her up and pass her to my son, who then passed her onto a man who followed us in."

When the pair got out of the house, they realised there were more people trapped in a neighbouring house.

They broke down the door to recover 22-year-old Emily Pankhurst, who was in the house with her parents.

Mr Hodges said: "She was shouting that her parents were trapped in the house, but the fire was getting hotter and we had to get out of there."

Moments after the pair got out of the house with Ms Pankhurst, the fire took hold fully; however, firefighters were on scene to enter the house and recover the 22-year-old's parents.

Mr Hodges described the scene as 'horrific'
Mr Hodges described the scene as 'horrific'

"I dread to think what would have happened if we were still in there when the fire took hold", added Mr Hodges.

As the sun rises on the shocked town, the pair have not wasted any time to rest and are already back at work.

"As far as I'm concerned, we took the morning off yesterday," Mr Hodges said. "We've still got a job to do."

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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