Hero rescue dog called in after huge gas blast
9:04am Wednesday 3rd November 2010 in News
A BOLTON firefighter and his award-winning search dog were at the heart of yesterday’s hunt for victims in the aftermath of a major gas explosion.
Mr Dewar and his sevenyear- old labrador Echo, a rescue dog with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, were called in to search for survivors.
Mr Dewar and Echo were called to the scene at 7.30am.
He said: “It was very chaotic when we got there and, after a quick brief from the incident commander, Echo was deployed to see if he could pick out any possible survivors among the rubble.
“Echo showed some interest in one particular area, but that turned out to be a false alarm.”
Mr Dewar and Echo were on the scene for four-and-ahalf hours. Mr Dewar added: “In that time Echo completed three searches of the area lasting a total of 45 minutes.”
Investigations were last night under way to find out what caused the blast which tore through a row of terrace houses in Merlin Road at 7.15am.
The explosion caused chaos and sparked a painstaking search for residents feared trapped in the rubble, involving scores of police, paramedics and around 40 firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire Brigade, including crews from Farnworth and Leigh.
Several neighbouring streets were cordoned off and National Grid staff were called in to isolate the gas supply.
Tim Doyle, chief executive of City West Housing Trust, which owns the properties, said the explosion took place at one of the four homes.
He also confirmed that the housing company had recently carried out improvement work at the properties.
He added: “We are now working with the emergency services on an ongoing investigation into the cause of the explosion.”
Salford City Council has opened an emergency centre for families evacuated from properties following the gas explosion.
Echo, who helped save a two-year-old girl trapped under the rubble during the Haiti earthquake, was named Animal of the Year at an awards ceremony at the house of Lords last month.