'Beautiful little angel': Family pay tribute to 2-year-old who died in suspected gas blast

16 May 2021, 16:19 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 07:27

George Arthur Hinds, 2, has been named as the toddler who died in a suspected gas explosion in Heysham.
George Arthur Hinds, 2, has been named as the toddler who died in a suspected gas explosion in Heysham. Picture: PA/Lancashire Police

By Joe Cook

A toddler who died in a suspected gas explosion in Heysham has been named as George Arthur Hinds, as his parents paid tribute to their "beautiful little angel".

A major incident was declared after the blast destroyed two homes and seriously damaged a third on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham, Lancashire.

George’s parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were also injured, although not seriously.

In a tribute they said: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.

"He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened. Our beautiful little angel grew his wings today.”

Two other people still remain in hospital with critical injuries.

George Arthur Hinds was aged two years and 10 months.
George Arthur Hinds was aged two years and 10 months. Picture: PA

Lancashire Fire said 10 units were called to the row of homes around 2.40am on Sunday, where firefighters searched a collapsed property.

Local residents have been evacuated while emergency services, gas engineers and others remain at the site.

Local MP David Morris told LBC he was awake at the time and felt his own house shake with the force of the "loud explosion", despite being around a quarter of a mile away.

"You have to be here to see it, it is absolutely heartbreaking," the Conservative MP added.

"It has taken my whole community by shock. A little boy has lost his life. Everyone is human and I saw a little doll on the floor and it really did upset me, it really did upset me.

"The only thing thing left is the chimney stacks. The thing that is distressing me the most is you can see prams, you can see toys. I can't find the words, it is just horrendous."

A Gofundme page set up to help Mallowdale Avenue residents had reached more than £26,000 by 16.30pm on Sunday.

A children's toy at the scene of a suspected gas explosion.
A children's toy at the scene of a suspected gas explosion. Picture: PA
Emergency workers remain at the scene, with the public asked to avoid the area.
Emergency workers remain at the scene, with the public asked to avoid the area. Picture: PA

Lancashire Police had confirmed earlier that a safety cordon had been put in place and nearby residents had been evacuated from their homes in the town some 25 miles north-east of Blackpool.

Electricity North West tweeted that it had paused electricity supplies to the area for safety reasons while the blast was being investigated.

Only the chimney stacks were left intact after the suspected gas blast.
Only the chimney stacks were left intact after the suspected gas blast. Picture: PA
Emergency workers picked through the rubble with sniffer dogs on Sunday morning.
Emergency workers picked through the rubble with sniffer dogs on Sunday morning. Picture: PA

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ben Norman said an investigation into the cause of the blast would be carried out "slowly and methodically".

"We'll work to conclude this incident safely and work with support and concern for the local community to ensure they can rebuild and go back to their normal lives in due course," he said.

"Sadly at this time it means there are a number of people whose homes have been affected and therefore they can't remain in the area.

"We ask people to have patience and particularly to have the family that have been affected in mind."