A MAN who pulled an 87-year-old woman to safety after a gas explosion in her home has spoken about the rescue.
Jay Baker, 46, was staying with friends in Rayfield, Epping, when he heard the explosion that blasted the windows from the pensioner’s home at about 6.30am yesterday (Sunday).
He said: “I was getting ready to go to my aunt’s house. I got up at about 6.20am and heard this ‘woof’.
“As I walked past, I noticed all the roof and tiles were sagging on the building across the road.
“A girl seemed to be in her pyjamas outside and she was standing a bit back because the roof seemed like it could come down.
“She said there was a woman in there and she couldn’t get the door open.
“When I got in through the bay window, which had been blown out, the woman was standing at the bottom of the stairs.
“All her hair had been singed and she looked red around the forehead.”
He said the woman had wanted to get dressed, but he told her the house was not safe, got the front door open and carried her outside.
He returned to the house twice, to get the woman a chair and to put out a fire that had started in a bin.
“There’s no way I would have gone in there out of curiosity,” he said. “It was just the fact that I knew there was someone behind the door.”
Families living near the woman’s home described their fear at being woken by the explosion.
Next-door neighbour Laura Swann, 22, said: “The sound was horrible. It was a low, intense rumble, but it was really loud.
“I heard glass shattering and looked out of my window, because my first thought was ‘riot’.
“I went next door to see if the lady was alright and she was just standing in her living room at the front of the house.
“We were evacuated for about two and a half hours.
"Every time I wake up now, I just lie there waiting for that sound again."
After being cared for by neighbours, the woman was taken by ambulance to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and is now thought to be in the specialist burns unit of Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
Mr Baker, who lives in Osaka, Japan, has been visiting friends in Epping and Buckhurst Hill and family in Wanstead.
He said he had been worried about having to confront rioters during his trip and his wife had warned him not to take any risks.
“From the outside, it looks like the whole of London is standing around with burning torches,” he said. “But the neighbours were all really helpful and there was a boy of 16 who told me they had rung the fire brigade.
“There’s definitely a good community spirit there.”