102-year-old left seriously injured after gas explosion in home


By Amanda MacMillan

A 102 year-old woman was left seriously injured today (wed) when a gas stove exploded at her home after being left on overnight.

Pensioner Annie Boyd suffered burns to her face, hands and arm following the blast in Edinburgh which happened at around 6am.

It was thought a light being switched on caused a spark which in turn ignited gas which had built up after a hob was left on as she slept.

The force of the blast was powerful enough to blow out windows at the rear of the property and an oak door.

Shards of window were thrown as far as other neighbours gardens from the ferocity of the explosion which also caused a small fire.

Fire-fighters evacuated the OAP from her ground floor flat in the Falcon Gardens area of Morningside into a waiting ambulance.

She was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where doctors were still tending her wounds and trying to prevent infection.

Neighbours said that Ms Boyd, who is registered as having lived at the property for almost 30 years, lost much of her hair in the blast.

A friend who was first on the scene but asking not to be named said he heard her cries for help after being woken by the noise.

He said: “She was probably waking up to make a cup of tea. How she has survived I don’t know – probably only because she was right in the middle of it. 

“She had one of the old Victorian doors in her kitchen and that was completely blown to bits.”

“I heard her shout for help.

“But when I found her she was her usual feisty self and she was trying to get up. She even told me to hurry up.”

He added: “She is one of the characters of this area. She is pretty indestructible.”

“When I got there the window was completely shattered. One of the doors had blown off its hinges.

“I found her sitting in the middle of it all in her kitchen.

“She was quite severely injured.

“When the fire crew arrived I just helped for a couple of minutes.

“They were concerned that it might have been a bigger issue.”

Another neighbour said: “I saw Mrs Boyd being taken out of the flat in a chair.

“My wife and I noticed in the doorway a man in a blue boiler suit.

“For a long time there was no light on in the flat and the police and fire crew were using torches to look at the ceiling.

“I have been living here since 1971 and have been neighbours for that time.

“She is well supported as there is a neighbour who comes in to make sure she is okay.

“I think she is amazing as she still manages to live by herself.

“I hope that she is okay.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “There was a female casualty after a gas explosion and fire.

“The gas hob was left on overnight. The woman turned on a light which caused the explosion.

“The kitchen windows were blown out and the door was blown off its hinges.

“The woman had burns to her face, hands and arms. She was given oxygen therapy until the ambulance arrived.”

David Mackie, group manager of health and safety at Lothian and Border Fire and Rescue, added: “The crews arrived within four minutes.

“They entered the building to find that the living room door had blown off its hinges.

“An elderly woman was screaming for help. She received first aid on the scene and was then taken to hospital to receive treatment for burns on her arms and face.

“When the fire crew arrived the fire had been extinguished and we believe that a neighbour put out the last flame with his shoe.”

He said: “It appears that it was a gas explosion. We have fire investigation teams looking into this.

“They are looking at light switches. The gas would have had to have been on for a long time for an explosion to happen.

“What we would like to advise people is if they have elderly relatives or neighbours that they keep an eye on them and get them into a routine of checking gas before they go to bed at night.”

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that other residents living nearby were asked to evacuate their homes temporarily.

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police responded to an address in Falcon Gardens at around 6.10am today following reports of a gas explosion within a flat.

“An elderly woman was taken to the ERI where the extent of her injuries are currently being assessed.

“Other occupants within the block were evacuated while the fire service carried out their investigation before being allowed to return to their homes.

“Police and fire service remain at the property to continue with their enquiries.”

A fire home safety check van remained at the scene along with police.

It was understood NHS Lothian planned to keep the pensioner in hospital for observation and treatment.