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The Rushden Echo, 5th November 1909, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Gas Explosion at Rushden

A Man’s Narrow Escape - Much Damage Done
Considerable alarm was caused in High-street South, Rushden, on Monday morning, at seven o’clock, by a terrific explosion, the whole neighbourhood being startled. The explosion in question occurred at the residence of Mr. S. Chettle, No. 100, High-street South, with whom lives Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Coleman, the latter being Mr. Chettle’s niece.

It appears that the front sitting-room had been occupied on Sunday. In this room there is a central gas bracket, or chandelier, suspended from the ceiling and having two burners, and there is another gas bracket from the wall, with one burner. A smell of gas was perceived on Sunday, but it could not be traced. When the family retired to rest on Sunday night the gas was carefully turned off.

On Monday morning the smell of gas was very pronounced, and Mr. Coleman set about to discover the leakage. As a precautionary measure, he first of all opened the front door. He then examined the gas tap but could not find anything wrong. Striking a match in the centre of the room, he tried the central gas bracket, but could not discover where the fault lay. Lighting another match, he proceeded to test the side bracket, when immediately

A Tremendous Explosion

occurred. Mr. Coleman was hurled with great force backwards into a corner of the room, and when he attempted to rise he found the whole place on fire. It is evident that there was a large accumulation of gas round the top of the room.

So terrific was the explosion that the front-room door was blown out and split into fragments. A cradle and a couch were burnt; some pictures were destroyed; curtains were ablaze; and many of the window panes were smashed and the glass hurled into the street. A great deal of damage was done to other articles by the combined ravages of the explosion and the fire. Happily Mrs. Coleman had the presence of mind to turn the gas off at the meter and thus averted what would undoubtedly have been a serious conflagration.

Mr. Coleman was badly burnt about the face and hands, and his hair was singed. In trying to combat the flames, Mr. Coleman received

Serious Burns

on his hand, and his clothing was scorched in places. Although his face was burnt, happily his eyes escaped injury.

First-aid to Mr. Coleman was rendered by P.C. Gotch, who lives a few doors away and who ran to the house on hearing the noise of the explosion. Afterwards the services of Dr. Owen were requisitioned, and the doctor carefully attended to Mr. Coleman’s injuries.

The damage caused by the explosion was not confined to the room in which it occurred. Some of the windows in the kitchen were blown out; the side-posts of one of the doors were broken; and the adjacent wall was much damaged. The walls and ceilings in the front room were greatly damaged.

It is pretty evident that the cause of the explosion was the escape of gas from the chandelier, the water of which had run out, and in this way the gas had accumulated near the ceiling, to become ignited when the match was lighted. It is very unfortunate that the household property was not insured against fire.

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