Cost of living crisis: Man killed in blast 'may have bought gas device over soaring bills'

1 April 2022, 18:32 | Updated: 1 April 2022, 18:43

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Man killed in gas explosion may have bought device to help with 'rising energy bills'. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

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A 91-year old man has died in his Wythenshawe home after an appliance that may have been bought to "help with the cold snap in anticipation of rising energy bills" exploded.

Frank Burton was found dead after police responded to a potential gas explosion which left a number of residents without power.

Investigations are continuing after emergency services attended reports of a fire and explosion at the house on Brownley Road at about 6:30pm.

Mr Burton's family has described him as "a character and a good guy".

"Frank was in the motor industry, he used to do body work and was highly skilled and respected. He was a dad-of-two."

His brother fears the appliance that exploded may have been bought by Mr Burton in response to the cost of living crisis.

"The explosion is typical of gas. Whether that's mains gas, or if he had something in to help with the cold snap and anticipating rise in energy, he may have bought something," he said.

But, this hasn't been confirmed by officials and the direct cause of the explosion is not yet known.

A number of houses were also evacuated and the scene made safe at about 8pm.

After the incident, Mark Threader, borough commander for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: "As things stand at the moment, we are in the phase of making the premises safe so we can carry out investigations.

"GMFRS, GMP and Cadent gas are working closely together to try and find out what caused the incident," Mr Threader said.

Detective Inspector Matthew Dixon, of GMP's City of Manchester district, also spoke from the scene. He said: "Firstly, my thoughts are with the deceased man's family.

"His family has been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.

"Our investigations with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive are at an early stage as we try and determine the cause of the explosion.

"I would like to thank the people who live in Brownley Road and the surrounding community for their patience on a very difficult night.

He added: "Many families were displaced last night but are back in their homes today, and the properties either side have not been damaged."

One resident told the Manchester Evening News they had heard a "massive bang" which they initially thought was caused by a car crash, while others spoke of their shock after the explosion.

One neighbour, who lives four doors down from the fire, said: "I heard the massive bang. At first I thought a car had crashed or somebody was knocking my door down then I came outside and saw all the police and fire engines."

Read More: April fuel's day: Brits struggle with cost of living as energy costs rise by £700 today

This comes after Ofgem raised the price cap of gas and electricity today, seeing it soar by 54 per cent this morning to £1,971 for an average home to compared to £1,277 yesterday.

Experts have issued stark warnings that people in the UK will starve, freeze and could consider suicide as they desperately struggle to pay soaring energy bills from this month.

It comes as a think-tank specialising in living standards warned that the price hike would push 2.5 million families in England alone into so-called "fuel stress" as people face paying more for energy than their mortgage.

The huge jump in price sparked the founder of energy company Utilita, Bill Bullen, to urge households to cut their energy usage and behaviour by layering up and insulating their homes.

The energy boss warned the elderly and vulnerable face death whilst he fears "next winter it will be much much worse" and also "much worse for children".

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A number of houses were also evacuated and the scene made safe at about 8pm. . Picture: Alamy

Mr Bullen also feared households may resort to dangerous attempts to heat their homes warning: "No matter how much you are struggling, do not use BBQs or open fires in your home. Apart from the fire risk there is a carbon monoxide problem."

A number of people have already begun to feel the effects of the cost of living crisis.

Nicky Jackson from Burnley, Lancashire told LBC she had to call the crisis team for support because it’s made her mental health so much worse.

"With all this it has made it so much worse. I mean I am already signed off of work completely. Not that long ago I had to contact the crisis team just to have a conversation," she said.

Ms Jackson added that she struggles to buy nappies for her children each week amid the hike in costs and has relied heavily on food banks for baby formula.

Caller admits she and her family are eating one meal a day.

Mr Sunak, in his spring statement, kept the criticised 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance contributions but said the threshold will rise by £3,000.

He also announced a cut to fuel duty in his spring statement. In previously announced measures, households will get £200 knocked off their energy bills in October, but will need to pay that back at a rate of £40 over five years from 2023.

The Government also claims that 2.5 million people will benefit from the national living wage rise from Friday, with adults now earning £9.50 under the scheme.

However, with Mr Sunak getting heckled with a cry of "is that it" in the Commons when announcing a tranche of measures, members of his own party have suggested he will need to offer more.

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