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Tributes paid to 'supportive and empowering' woman who died in Bury house explosion
18 February 2021, 12:26 | Updated: 19 February 2021, 16:14
A woman who died following a large explosion at a house in Bury has been named as Hazel Wilcock.
Tributes have poured in for the 61-year-old, who has been described as "supportive and empowering" by friends, colleagues and neighbours.
Ms Wilcock, who is believed to have worked as a counsellor at St Ann's Hospice in Manchester, was tragically found in the rubble of her home by emergency services following the as-yet-unexplained blast.
"Hazel was a force of nature who staunchly believed that deaf people were equal citizens in society," a former colleague posted online.
"She had a cracking sense of humour and always had a cheeky twinkle in her eye. She was generous, kind, supportive and empowering.
"She will be so much missed and is a huge loss for so many people. May Hazel's star shine the brightest in the sky."
Hazel was pronounced dead at the scene and another woman and child were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said officers were called to reports that a house had collapsed in the village of Summerseat, Bury, just before 9.30pm on Wednesday.
The force said they were later able to identify her on Thursday after investigating the incident and speaking to neighbours.
Another former colleague said: "Devastating news about lovely Hazel Wilcock, my former boss, a wonderful colleague and so much more.
"Unbelievable, I am broken."
Chief inspector Jamie Collins said: "We believe we know who she is based on this address and initial enquiries."
Around 30 nearby houses were initially evacuated but all residents, apart from those living on the same road as the collapsed house, had been allowed back into their properties.
He confirmed said crews would remain at the scene for the next couple of days and are working to get people back into their homes.
He praised colleagues for their response to the tragic incident, adding: "Firefighters have worked throughout the night. The weather hasn't been too kind to us but they've done a brilliant job."
A joint investigation is being carried out by GMP, GMFRS and local authorities in Bury.
Cadent gas officials are reported to be assessing the scene, with a strong smell of gas reported in the area.