Gas ex­plo­sion vic­tim’s home was looted

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Vicky Cas­tle vcas­tle@thek­m­group.co.uk @vick­y­castleKM

A dis­abled res­i­dent wants to “put the story straight about Ash­ford’s com­mu­nity spirit” af­ter his home was looted hours af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing gas ex­plo­sion.

Richard Legge, 54, was liv­ing in a flat in Oak Tree Road with his part­ner last year when a fire­ball ripped through the build­ing.

Eight coun­cil-owned properties were af­fected, 10 peo­ple were left home­less and dozens of nearby homes were evac­u­ated.

Mr Legge and his part­ner An­gela Pig­gott, 48, were dis­placed by the dis­as­ter on June 15 last year and spent six weeks liv­ing with his mum.

Mr Legge, who has Parkin­son’s and now lives in Willes­bor­ough, said: “We were left with ab­so­lutely noth­ing, just the clothes on our back and the shoes on our feet.

“So to find out we had been robbed af­ter the ex­plo­sion was just heart­break­ing.

“They took a huge list of things, iPad, lap­tops, all sorts of eas­ily grabable things.

“All that was left of my pos­ses­sions was a pic­ture, my teeth and a pair of glasses.”

Mr Legge ex­plained that An­gela had been in the flat at the time of the ex­plo­sion, hav­ing a lie down.

She was treated for smoke in­hala­tion im­me­di­ately af­ter and he said that even now the pair are still both ter­ri­fied when­ever they hear a bang.

He added: “We are still dev­as­tated. We have had to re­build as best we can but we are still a mess.

“Fi­nan­cially it has been ab­so­lutely crip­pling.

“We had no sav­ings and we had no con­tents in­sur­ance be­cause it was just an in­terim stopover.

“What­ever was left of our stuff got wet and ru­ined in stor­age. I had a blue leather sofa that was lit­er­ally grow­ing mush­rooms by the time it was re­turned to us.

“It’s been a night­mare. It’s made my Parkin­son’s worse that it should be and my part­ner still has ter­ri­ble night­mares.

“Both of us prac­ti­cally hide un­der the ta­ble if we hear bangs now.”

In the Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE) re­port on the ex­plo­sion, in­spec­tors con­firmed they had been fo­cused on the is­sue of gas in the premises and that the blast could have been caused by an un-sol­dered pipe but an HSE spokesman said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been com­pleted and no fur­ther ac­tion would be taken.

Mr Legge said the cou­ple are un­happy with the lack of ac­tion and have con­tacted a so­lic­i­tor to take fur­ther ac­tion against gas com­pany SGN.

He added: “We didn’t even get an apol­ogy from SGN so we have got a so­lic­i­tor on board.

“We re­ceived a lot of sup­port from Ash­ford In Cri­sis at the time but I don’t recog­nise this ‘won­der­ful com­mu­nity spirit’ peo­ple keep talk­ing about.

“It’s all well and good say­ing about com­mu­nity spirit but some­one from the com­mu­nity helped them­selves to my stuff at the worst point in our lives. What kind of com­mu­nity spirit is that?”

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM4393624

Richard Legge lost ev­ery­thing when his Oak Tree Road flat was dam­aged by a gas ex­plo­sion

De­mo­li­tion work un­der way af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing ex­plo­sion

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