A ‘lovely lady’ found dead after an explosion razed a house in Greater Manchester has been named as a 61-year-old hospice counsellor.
Hazel Wilcock was killed in the devastating explosion while sitting in her living room ‘on a Zoom call with her friends’.
The 61-year-old’s terraced home in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, was reduced to rubble by the blast.
Emergency crews were called to the collapsed home just before 9.30pm on Wednesday and found the body shortly after.
A neighbour, 36, said Ms Wilcock had been killed while on a video call in her living room.
Tributes have been made to ‘generous, kind and supportive’ Ms Wilcock as neighbours and friends mourn the ‘huge loss’ of a ‘beautiful soul inside and out’.
Hazel Wilcock (pictured) was killed in the explosion while sitting in her living room ‘on a Zoom call with her friends’
Emergency crews were called to the collapsed home in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, just before 9.30pm on Wednesday
The body of a 61-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble a short time later. Neighbours report she was on a video call to her friends at the time of the explosion
The house was razed to the ground by the blast, which also injured several other people including a neighbour and her child
Thirty homes around in East View, Summerseat, were evacuated as a precaution and three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries
Emma Ferguson-Coleman posted on Facebook: ‘So sad to find out about the tragic and untimely death of Hazel Wilcock (previously Flynn).
‘We first met 17 years ago when I interviewed her for the BDA’s Counselling Service.
‘She got the job and created what is now SignHealth’s amazing therapy service for Deaf BSL users.
‘Hazel was a force of nature who staunchly believed that deaf people were equal citizens in society. She had a cracking sense of humour and always had a cheeky twinkle in her eye.
‘She was generous, kind, supportive and empowering. She will be so much missed and is a huge loss for so many people. May Hazel’s star shine the brightest in the sky.’
Hazel began work with St Ann’s Hospice, in Manchester, as a counsellor and clinical advisor is November 2016, before taking up took up a role as senior counsellor in April last year.
For her 60th birthday, Hazel raised £235 for the hospice.
Arthur Pickles, 73, said: ‘She was a lovely lady, with a very caring manner.
‘I wasn’t surprised to find out that she was a counsellor because she just put you at ease and was very easy to talk to.’
Greater Manchester Police confirmed yesterday that a woman was pronounced dead at the scene and another woman and child were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Kerry Crompton told The Sun: ‘It is so sad about the lady. I used to see her walking her dog. I’ve been told that, at the time, she was in the living room on a video call to her friends. That must have been horrific for those people.’
The mum-of-two pulled her neighbour, named as Stephanie, her daughter Evie and dog Besti from the wreckage of the explosion, which damaged several houses.
She said: ‘They were both absolute black. Stephanie was screaming. I just grabbed them and got them out. The little girl was hysterical.’
Thirty homes around in East View, Summerseat, were evacuated as a precaution and three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Search and rescue dogs were also deployed to the scene as fire crews set about extinguishing the last of the flames.
Cadent gas officials could be seen assessing the scene, with a strong smell of gas reported in the area.
Forensic officers were also spotted searching the area, with a forensic tent stationed nearby to the scene.
Aerial photos lay bare the damage inflicted on the terraced property that sits below a railway line.
Aerial photos show the devastattion the blast caused, with debris strewn across the gardens of numerous properties
Five properties in East View, Summerseat, were evacuated as a precaution and three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries
Reports suggest a gas leak could have caused the explosion as police revealed pipes were being checked at midnight on Wednesday
The blast ripped through the walls and roof, revealing the gutted interior. Debris was flung as far as the road and littered the front garden.
Chief Inspector Jamie Collins said: ‘We believe we know who she is based on this address and initial enquiries.’
He said 30 surrounding houses were initially evacuated but all residents apart from those living on the same road as the collapsed house had been allowed back into their properties.
He added: ‘We are keeping an open mind in regards to the circumstances of this incident and inquiries are ongoing.’
An investigation with the fire service, Cadent gas and local authority partners was under way and the gas supply had been isolated, he said.
Steve Wilcock, from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said crews would remain at the scene for the next couple of days and were working to get people back into their homes.
But, he said they were taking a cautious approach and a cordon remained in place. He said firefighters arrived at the scene quickly on Wednesday night.
He added: ‘Firefighters have worked throughout the night. The weather hasn’t been too kind to us but they’ve done a brilliant job.’
File photo of the house in East View before the explosion ripped through the building and gutted the interior
The blast has ripped through the walls and roof, revealing the gutted interior. Debris has been flung as far as the road and litters the front garden
Aerial photos lay bare the damage inflicted on the terraced property that sits below a railway line
Speaking near the scene of the collapsed house, Mr Wilcock said: ‘Crews responded [on Wednesday] night to reports of a collapsed property in Summerseat and reports of casualties.
‘We attended and quickly located one female who unfortunately has been declared dead.
‘At this tragic time we just want to offer our condolences to the family and friends involved.
‘Summerseat is a very, very close-knit community. It was evident last night and certainly today that community’s come together to support each other.’
James Daly, the area’s MP, this morning said it had been a ‘traumatic evening’ for the community and urged anyone in need of help to contact his office.
One resident who lived five minutes from the blast claimed his blinds moved at the time of the building’s collapse.
He wrote on Twitter last night: ‘I was sat watching TV but neither of us heard anything. Strangely, the blinds moved though, as if the window was open. The pictures look awful.’
Residents are evacuated from their homes over fears of a gas leak in Greater Manchester