Around a dozen fearless members of the public dug through rubble to rescue a seriously injured man from a burning building after a gas explosion caused the terraced house to collapse, witnesses said.
The bloodied victim was carried to safety on a mattress shortly after the home was blown apart in the blast on Sunday evening. A woman at the property could not be rescued and was confirmed to have died by emergency services on Monday morning.
Kelly Monaghan, chief inspector of West Midlands Police, said: “There was some really heroic actions from members of the community last night.”
Kiera Parkinson, whose boyfriend Callum Attwood was among those who helped at the scene in Birmingham, said: “We’re so proud of literally every single person that risked their lives to go in there and help somebody else.”
The casualty remains in a “critical” condition in hospital, emergency services said on Monday afternoon.
Residents told the PA news agency they clambered past flaming debris and through dust and rubble shortly after the blast to pull the injured man alive from the ruins of the property, on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding.
One of the Good Samaritans, who declined to give his name, said: “Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in.
“So we went in the house, me and about a dozen others.
“There was a guy in the back. We could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen.
“The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us.
“We managed to get to him and pull him out – I still have his blood on my jeans.
“He ended up coming out on a mattress, but he was saying there was a woman in the house.”
The rescuer said: “His clothes had been blown off. You couldn’t even see him, he was covered in blood.”
He added: “We could hear the man, geezer, screaming, and we dug him out.
“He was in the kitchen, lying flat on the floor, with his back against a fridge or washing machine.
“He was going, ‘Don’t pull me – my legs’, and I said, ‘Mate, we’re going to have to take you out now’.”
The rescuers tried to douse their clothes with water from damaged pipes to protect themselves from the flames.
Eyewitness Ms Parkinson said she and her boyfriend arrived on the scene shortly after the blast to check in on his mother who lives locally after hearing the “massive bang” at around 8.30pm.
She said: “Callum and I’d say about 10 other men ran in to obviously help and do what they could.
“I know they brought a man out on a mattress, I know they were willing to help a lady but couldn’t actually get to the lady.
“We just want it known Callum didn’t act alone, there’s plenty of other people that deserve the praise.”
She said: “I think everyone in Kingstanding will think: what a community to be part of, you couldn’t ask for better.
“When it comes to it, we’re all there for each other.
“I’m so proud of him and proud of all the others as well.”
She added the men had helped, without “even a second” of hesitation or thought for their own lives.
“Just (straight) in there – they did what they had to do,” she said.
“I just think for most of us in Kingstanding it’s just a day of sadness, because of what has happened – it’s a complete tragedy.
“But we’re so proud of literally every single person that risked their lives to go in there and help somebody else.
“What a community.”
The explosion saw debris blasted to the other side of the street, neighbouring properties damaged and a tree shredded.
The West Midlands Fire Service said it “was clear that a gas explosion had taken place”, and that rumours the property’s boiler had needed replacing before the fire “may form part of the investigation”.
More than 20 people were evacuated nearby and a handful were treated at the scene for minor wounds.
The fire service said good progress was being made at the scene and a drone was being used to identify hot spots.