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Victim screamed 'save my missus' in gas explosion which killed partner

Victim screamed ‘Please save my missus’ as he was pulled from gas explosion which killed his partner, 79, as probe continues into what sparked blast in house ‘with faulty boiler’

  • Doreen Rees-Bibb, 79, a mother with a ‘heart of pure gold’ died while partner David Murphy is still in hospital
  • Emergency services scrambled to Dulwich Road just after 8.30pm on Sunday night after a number of calls
  • One house has been destroyed and several others have been significantly damaged as well as nearby cars 
  • David desperately screamed ‘please save my missus’ after he was dragged from the rubble himself  
  • Fire chiefs then confirmed this morning that a woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze 

A man scream ‘please save my missus’ after he was pulled from a huge gas explosion which killed his partner, who was described in tributes as having a ‘heart of pure gold.’

Doreen Rees-Bibb, 79, did not survive the blaze which reduced her partner David Murphy’s home to rubble and left her buried under several feet of debris on Sunday night.

An unnamed family member said that Doreen from nearby Erdington was ‘the life and soul of the party’ who was ‘full of warmth and love, and she had a heart of pure gold’.  

Her family also said she was ‘really happy’ with her partner David who was pulled from his home on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, by brave locals after it went up in flames last night – also damaging neighbouring properties and cars in the process. 

One witness Kashif Mahmood said he heard the man’s terrified cries as David tried to desperately send help for Doreen.

The dad-of-two told The Sun that as a hero neighbour was pulling one victim from the property, injured David cried: ‘Please save my missus, she’s still inside.’

He added: ‘I was with my wife and kids and we had just come back from the cinema.

‘Just as soon as we drove past the house it exploded.’

Tributes have been paid to Doreen Rees-Bibb, pictured, 79, who died in a house explosion in Birmingham last night when the blast tore through the property – leaving her buried under several feet of rubble

David Murphy’s (pictured) children Kate and Dean yesterday confirmed their father had been a victim of the explosion – an incident emergency services admit will take several days to fully investigate

Another angle of the explosion in Kingstanding shows the home completely destroyed as well as huge damage caused to the neighbouring houses

A house which was destroyed in a gas explosion in Birmingham last night leaving a woman dead and a man fighting for his life had a dodgy boiler, it emerged yesterday

Emergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, where an explosion on Sunday destroyed a house

The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, where a woman has died after an explosion destroyed a house on Sunday

Callum Attwood (pictured) has revealed the moment he and a group of locals bravely charged into the burning house in a desperate bid to rescue those inside

In a further twist, the prospective new owner of the three-bedroom terraced home told the Daily Mail of his own lucky escape when the house blew up as he drove past with his family. 

David’s children Kate and Dean yesterday confirmed their father had been a victim of the explosion – an incident emergency services admit will take several days to fully investigate.

It comes as it emerged that estate agents warned just weeks ago that the boiler needed replacing at the three-bedroom house. 

The property – completely destroyed in the blast – was recently listed for sale by Birmingham-based Paul Carr Estate Agents for £160,000 and was sold subject to contract. 

On the firm’s website, the property’s particulars states: ‘Boiler requires repair / replacement.’

Josh Turner, who lives opposite, told MailOnline: ‘There was a huge explosion – I thought a bomb had gone off.’

Mr Turner added: ‘I went outside and there were flames leaping into the sky. It was unreal. People were rushing towards the house to try to help. 

‘They found Dave in the back garden. He was covered in burns and all his clothes had been blown off. They put him on a mattress and carried him out. His missus Doreen was stuck in the house.’

David’s children Kate and Dean yesterday confirmed their father had been a victim of the explosion – an incident emergency services admit will take several days to fully investigate.

Dave’s son Dean said: ‘Yes, my dad was in the explosion. He’s in hospital. and he’s not in a good way. But he survived. Sadly, the lady didn’t. I’m on my way to the hospital now.’

Daughter Kate added: ‘My dad was in the explosion but I don’t want to talk about it.’

When asked by MailOnline for details on the sale and the boiler, a spokesperson for the company declined to comment. 

Area commander Alex Chapland, of West Midlands Fire Service, giving an update on the investigation, said a multi-agency inquiry was now under way ‘to understand exactly how this has taken place’.

He added: ‘We have searched the properties we can get into. We have liaised and spoken to all of the occupants of all the different properties. We’re not expecting to find anybody else in there, but until we have fully searched the area we can’t say with absolute certainty.’

Asked about reports the house had been up for sale and that the boiler had needed replacing, Mr Shapland said: ‘That may form part of the investigation. As I say, we’ve got colleagues and professionals who will be looking at all of the different circumstances.’

Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan, of West Midlands Police, said the force was supporting the fire brigade’s investigation and there were no suspicious circumstances ‘at this stage’.

She added: ‘There is one fatality, there’s also one male critically ill in hospital at the moment, and I can confirm that that’s the condition at the minute – it is critical.’

She said officers were in the process of contacting relatives of the male and female, but were unable to release their identities at this stage.

The family member who named Doreen added that her loved ones are ‘very distraught’.  ‘She was almost 80 but she was still full of life,’ they told the Sun. ‘She was really happy with Dave. We don’t know what’s happened, if there was a gas leak or some kind of fault. We are just waiting for answers.’

About 20 people were evacuated and given shelter at a nearby pub after the incident on Sunday night. Resident Callum Attwood and two others, known as Jo and Dave, were among up to a dozen who helped free Mr Murphy.

Dave said: ‘The guy was in the kitchen, slumped against a fridge or a washing machine with his legs out in front of him. He was being pinned down by an old ghetto blaster.

‘He was going, ‘Don’t pull me – my legs’. We managed to pull the stereo out and then free him.’

Mark Pearman, 49, said before rescue workers arrived, ‘One group [of neighbours] were at the front [of the house], the other went around to the back. We formed a human chain and passed each other rubble piece by piece.’ 

Roger Higgins, who lives next door, said he heard Mr Murphy and a woman dining on the patio shortly before the blast, which happened about 15 seconds after they went inside.

‘There was a small bang and then the big one’, he told the Daily Mail. ‘I was lying on the sofa and when I looked up and I could see the sky.’ 

By the time he escaped, neighbours had carried Mr Murphy out on an abandoned mattress which was retrieved from a nearby garden. Kashif Mahmood said he was driving past the house with his family at the moment it exploded in a fireball.

The father of two, from nearby Perry Barr, said he had recently had an offer accepted on the blast address, but had not signed a contract. He said: ‘I have been lucky two times over – once escaping serious injury and two by not signing the contract.’

Martin Ward-White, of West Midlands Fire Service, said it could be ‘days’ before the cause of the gas explosion was established.

David’s niece Terri Ann Noble from Stockton-on-Tees, also said: ‘David is a lovely man, he’s so funny and he’ll do anything for anybody.

The 42-year-old mother added: ‘His children Dean and Kate will be going through hell right now, they absolutely adore him, they love him to bits.

‘He hasn’t been the same since my Auntie Lynn died from breast cancer a few years back and it’s just awful that he’s going through this right now. We’re all hoping he’s okay and pulls through.’

Speaking as urban search and rescue specialists were preparing to sift the rubble, Ms Monaghan also praised the ‘heroic’ actions of residents who rushed into the burning rubble and dragged the injured man out.

‘I would just like to say a huge thank you – there was some really heroic actions from members of the community last night,’ she added.

Witnesses said there were around a dozen fearless members of the public who dug through rubble to rescue Mr Murphy.


An unnamed family member said that Doreen (left and right) was ‘the life and soul of the party’ who was ‘ full of warmth and love, and she had a heart of pure gold’. Her family also said she was ‘really happy’ with her partner David Murphy who was pulled from their home on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, by brave locals after it went up in flames last night – also damaging neighbouring properties and cars in the process

Emergency services were called at 8.38pm last night to the scene of a house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham which exploded

Flowers and messages from friends and family were left at the scene as locals paid tribute to the woman

Doreen Rees-Bibb did not survive the blaze which reduced her partner’s home to rubble and left her buried under several feet of debris

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 is in a life-threatening condition in hospital.

Residents said 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. 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.’

Emergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, in Birmingham, where a woman has been found dead after a house was destroyed in a gas explosion

Other eyewitnesses told how the injured man screamed at rescuers: ‘Please save my missus, she’s still inside!’

Father-of-two Kashif Mahmood and his family had a miracle escape when they drove past the house at the moment it exploded in a fireball.

Mr Mahmood and his wife were in the car with their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son when the blast happened.

He said: ‘It was really, really shocking and scary, the worst experience of my life. We didn’t realise what had happened at first and I thought maybe the car had blown up.

‘My car was on fire, all the glass was broken, windscreen, side windows, glass roof, everything was smashed. I just stopped the car and we all just scrambled outside.’

He added: ‘One of the neighbours let me and my family come into their house and gave us water and stuff which was nice. We were very lucky. It could have been so much worse. We were right outside the house when it happened.

‘The neighbours managed to get the man out of the house. He was injured but was screaming ‘Please save my missus! My missus is still inside!’

‘The guys couldn’t go inside because the fire was so bad. They waited for the firefighters to arrive and they got in and took the woman outside but she was not in a good condition.

‘I found out this morning on the news [that she died] and that is really really sad and I feel so sorry for her family.’

West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed people at the scene rescued a man from the destroyed house but he had ‘very significant injuries’ and was taken to hospital. The area was evacuated and four other men were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Area commander Martin Ward-White from West Midlands Fire Service told reporters this morning: ‘We received multiple calls to this incident last night just after 8.30pm. On arrival it was clear a gas explosion had taken place. 

‘There was one male casualty who was taken to hospital immediately with life-threatening injuries. There is no update on that casualty at this time, but what we can confirm is that sadly one female lost her life in this incident. 

‘The female was identified relatively quickly within the property that exploded. However due to the process of removing this individual, and the identification process, we’ve been unable to make this statement until now. 

‘Obviously that’s really sad and tragic, not just for the individuals involved, not just for the local community but especially the family and friends who have been affected by this. We continue to thank the local residents for their support and understanding.

‘In terms of the next steps for the fire service, police and gas board, it will be to start the investigation into what caused the explosion. We know it’s gas, but what actually caused that gas explosion?’ 

Emergency services said evacuations were taking place and people have been urged to avoid the area, with Dulwich Road and surrounding roads closed. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said West Midlands Police, WMAS, Cadent Gas and the National Grid were all working to manage the incident.

Six fire crews, three ambulances, five paramedic officers and a National Inter-Agency Liaison officer were among the resources sent to the scene.

The force said in a statement: ‘Evacuations are taking place. Those evacuated will be told where to meet. People in the area must immediately follow the instructions of first responders.

‘Dulwich Road and surround roads are closed and will be for a very long time. Please help us by avoiding the area. The cause of the explosion is not yet known.

‘Please think of those involved and their loved ones and do not post images online. 

‘We will keep you updated regularly as soon as we have hard facts.’

Google street view of the house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding before the blast on Sunday night

The living room inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

The bathroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

The back garden at the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

The kitchen inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

The bedroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

Another bedroom inside the property in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, which was destroyed by a gas explosion on Sunday night

West Midlands Police force said in a statement: ‘Evacuations are taking place. Those evacuated will be told where to meet. People in the area must immediately follow the instructions of first responders’

The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, where an explosion on Sunday destroyed a house and caused damage to other properties and vehicles nearby

The scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, where a woman has died after an explosion destroyed a house on Sunday 

Locals reported that nearby residents ran into the wrecked houses in an attempt to evacuate those inside.

One man, who declined to give his name, told the PA news agency: ‘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 (of the house), 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.

‘We got him out, he ended up coming out on a mattress. But he was saying there was a woman in the house.’

‘His clothes had been blown off, you couldn’t even see him, he was covered in blood,’ added the rescuer.

He added: ‘We just went straight through the (front) door, and I thought I went through the house’s door – but it was actually the next door house’s door, because the house door had been destroyed.

‘We come out to the back, and then 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 group of rescuers broke damaged water pipes, amid the rubble, to try to douse their own clothes, to protect from the flames.

Standing at the police cordon, watching the emergency services working under powerful spotlights amid the devastation, the resident added: ‘There’s nothing left of that house at all. We went through the house – and that house is gone.’

West Midlands Ambulance Service also said they sent three ambulances, five paramedic officers, MERIT trauma doctor, critical care paramedic, West Midlands care team, Hazardous Area Response Team and a national interagency liaison officer to the scene.

The West Midlands Fire Service have sent six fire crews to the incident and have warned people to ‘avoid the area at this time’.

West Midlands Ambulance Service also said they sent three ambulances, five paramedic officers, MERIT trauma doctor, critical care paramedic, West Midlands care team, Hazardous Area Response Team and a national interagency liaison officer to the scene

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