Mum describes incredible escape from house explosion with daughter, 6, and says 'someone was watching over us'

A MUM has revealed her incredible escape from a house explosion with her young daughter that tragically killed a 61-year-old woman.

Stephanie Hartley was watching TV with Evie in Bury when they heard a sudden blast at around 9pm on Wednesday night. 

Traigcally, the body of Stephanie's next-door neighbour Hazel Wilcock, 61, was later pulled from the rubble.

Five other people, including a young child, were hurt in the explosion.

Stephanie has thanked her “hero” neighbours who pulled her and daughter Evie to safety. 

Her parents Philip, 72, and Christine, 69, and nephew James, 23, who live on the other side of the exploded property, were also rescued. 

The healthcare assistant said: “I cannot thank the people who helped me and my family that night enough. 

“Jamie Nicolls assisted my mum, dad and nephew. 

“I will be forever grateful to Kerry Crompton and the many others who were in my backyard which was covered in rubble. 

“It was a terrifying and devastating experience and I thank god that my six-year-old daughter was not injured."

Stephanie believes her daughter’s life may have been saved by the fact she should have been in bed but refused to go – making it easier for neighbours to pull them from the rubble. 

She added: “We were sitting in the front room. Thankfully Evie doesn’t like going to bed on her own. 

“I don’t know what I can salvage until I get to the property.”

Stephanie has now paid tribute to Hazel, who is understood to have worked as a counsellor for St Ann's Hospice.

She said: “Hazel was a kind, thoughtful and generous neighbour who was always up for a laugh. 

“She kept my spirits up throughout lockdown and my daughter thought the world of her. 

“I am truly saddened and my thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Tributes have flooded in for Hazel, who is believed to have been killed while on a video call with friends.

Neighbour, June Winsche, told MEN: "She had lots of friends and loved entertaining and I'd always be invited over for meals.

"Hazel was just so kind. We went on retreats together and she took
time with me when I was going through a very bad time.

"She was a counsellor so had amazing listening skills and I am aware
she helped a lot more people.

"She was very inspirational and pushed me to start my own business
because she believed in me so much."

Close friend, Amanda Webber, wrote on Facebook: "A beautiful soul
inside and out.

"It was a pleasure to have known you and to have worked for you, may
you Rest in eternal peace and your smile shine down on us all.

"You shall be sadly missed by all who knew you.R.I.P Hazel xx."

While Andrea Procter wrote: "Hazel you were such an inspiration and fantastic friend.

"Devastating news. So sad."

Neighbours who raced to help the survivors in Summerseat, Gtr Manchester, said the blast was heard three streets away.

Thirty homes were evacuated, with some families allowed back yesterday.

Greater Manchester Police said a woman and child were taken to hospital with minor injuries and three others treated at the scene, Police, the fire service, the council and gas suppliers are investigating.

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