The theft of copper cabling may have been responsible for a large gas explosion that ripped through a row of houses in Castleford.
Around 30 people were forced to leave their homes on Rhodes Street, Hightown, in the early hours after the incident in which two fire officers suffered minor injuries.
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The Yorkshire Post
reported that West Yorkshire Fire Service arrived on the scene to respond to a series of small fires shortly before 1:30am. Residents were moved from their homes, and soon afterwards an explosion tore through the row of terraced homes. One property was almost completely demolished, and five others suffered fire and blast damage.
Station manager Mark Allen said the firefighters on the scene responded quickly to the threat of a gas explosion: 'The firefighters did a fantastic job of rescuing residents so quickly, and it was their skill and training which told them they should withdraw. This clearly saved not only the lives of the residents, but their own lives.'
has reported that a full investigation into the cause of the blast has been launched. The incident comes just days after a boy died during a suspected metal theft from a sub-station in Leeds.
CE Electric has issued a strong warning on the danger of metal thefts. It said: 'Copper theft continues to blight our network and, despite the recent fatality in Leeds, these incidents continue to occur at an average of four every day.
'We cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to tamper with electrical equipment on the network. We are pleading with these thieves to think about the consequences of their actions and how much they are personally risking for such a small return.'
Electricity and gas supplies were cut off in nearby homes. Engineers from CE Electric and Northern Gas Networks are working to restore supplies. Gas supplies in the surrounding area are unaffected and the area is safe, Northern Gas Networks said.