Heartless thieves stole lifesaving equipment from a fire engine as its crew battled the blaze caused by the recent gas explosion in Kingstanding.
Grandmother Doreen Rees-Bibb died during the blast at the house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, on Sunday, 26 June, which left another man fighting for his life in hospital and destroyed or damaged six houses.
West Midlands Police revealed today whilst heroic residents and fire crews tried to save lives, someone prised open a cabinet on a fire engine at the scene and helped themselves to vital safety equipment.
A pump, cutters, a hose, and bolt croppers were taken from the fire engine and detectives are combing through footage from the area to identify the offenders.
Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan said: “This is a despicable act during a serious incident when other members of the public were acting so heroically and selflessly.
“The items stolen are essential for firefighters to act quickly and save lives when it matters most, just like we saw in Kingstanding on Sunday.”
She added: “A side shutter was prised open and a pump, cutters, a hose and bolt croppers were taken. We’re already looking at footage from the area to identify the offenders.
“If anyone has any information please contact us via Live Chat on our website quoting 20/591089/22 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
The outpouring of support for families affected by the blaze was praised by the police, fire service, and Birmingham City Council.
Kind-hearted residents swamped the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Suite, and The Beggars Bush with donations of clothing, essentials and food for the families made homeless due to the blast, which was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework in the property.
A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing over £2,500 had been raised in donations.
A vigil was also help one week after the fatal explosion, to remember Doreen Rees-Bibb and show support for those affected.
The gas explosion which destroyed a house in Kingstanding and damaged six other properties, leaving a grandmother dead and a man fighting for his life in hospital, was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have stated.
West Midlands Fire Service came to the conclusion after four days investigating the cause of the devastating explosion on Dulwich Road on Sunday 26 June.
A WMFS spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to again extend our sympathies to everyone affected by Sunday night’s events in which, tragically, a woman lost her life.
“The man who was rescued remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.”
The spokesman added: “Extensive investigations at the scene of the explosion are now complete.
“Demolition work on Tuesday enabled investigators to safely access and test sections of the property’s internal gas piping.
“They have concluded that the explosion was most likely caused by the accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework.”
West Midlands Police officers are also gathering evidence for HM Coroner and family liaison officers continue to support those most directly affected.
The Health and Safety Executive will continue to make enquiries as to whether any work-related activities contributed towards the incident.
The WMFS spokesman added: “We are extremely grateful to the families involved, and to the local community, for their understanding and patience throughout the initial emergency response and the subsequent investigation.
“The community has been fantastic in the aftermath of this tragedy, offering support and shelter to those affected, and we would like to thank everyone involved in that effort.”
The Kingstanding Inn has stopped accepting donations of items for those affected by the blast after being deluged by people bringing clothes and food.
Kingstanding Councillor Rick Payne said: “On behalf of those who have done a stellar job of collecting items for the Dulwich Road relief I just want to make everybody aware they there has been an overwhelming response.
“Thank you everyone that has donated for your generosity, The Kingstanding Inn has been absolutely inundated and has asked me to inform residents that they are no longer taking any donations.
“There was a massive surplus and as a result, following a meeting of the charities who have been working within the community over the past few days, a decision has been made to donate the surplus items to local schools and charities.”
A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing £2,365 had been raised in donations.
A vigil is being held on Dulwich Road on Sunday 3 July, marking a week after the tragic gas explosion.
At 7pm the community will come together to mark the moment the blast ripped through the Kingstanding home, killing Doreen Rees-Bibb and seriously injuring a man who remains in hospital.
Several people were made also homeless from the incident, and the Kingstanding community rallied round this week by raising money, giving donations, and offering support.
Sunday’s 7pm vigil will be to remember Doreen, age 79, who was killed in the blast, and to show solidarity for the man still fighting for his life. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Kingstanding resident Cassie Harker said: “Everyone is going at 7pm we are all lighting the candles at the time the explosion happened.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone represent our community and come together as one.”
There has been a massive outpouring of grief for “fun-loving grandmother” Doreen, who died at the scene.
Her daughter Karen led the tributes to her mother saying: “We are so devastated that me and my sister have loss our mother Doreen in a fire, it’s the most terrible way to die. We miss her so much.”
Doreen was a popular figure around Erdington and Kingstanding and friends who remember her enjoying nights in The Acorn and the former HQ, now the Pheasant Plucker, on High Street, flooded social media with fond memories.
Former karaoke DJ at HQ Gary Neale said: “She was my friend, and a lovely lady.”
Several people who she had helped in the past by giving sage advice and support also mourned her loss.
Maureen Harwood said: “I’m so sorry, she was such a good friend to me, and helped me.”
Alex Stanley said: “I can’t believe it is true, Doreen was such an angel, I am absolutely heartbroken. She was always asking about me, telling me to get out of Birmingham saying “Alex you are better than this place”. RIP and party hard up there.”
Eight families were forced out of their damaged houses and there have been several fundraising drives to help them, with the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Bar and Lounge, and the Beggars Bush all accepting donations.
Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, Birdbrook Road, also set up a Go Fund Me which has so far received over £2000 in donations.
Rachael Pike-Franklin said last night (Tuesday): “We are working alongside some of the families in our community at the Kingstanding Inn the clothes donations have been phenomenal and we are truly grateful for everyone who has been a part of collecting and donating .
“For now we have been asked to not accept anymore clothes donations but are looking for fresh food products to help feed the families in our community at this tragic time.”
Investigations into the cause of the explosion are still ongoing. However, gas suppliers Cadent have confirmed their role in the investigation is over.
Elliott Nelson, Cadent network director for the West Midlands said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those impacted and everyone in this close-knit community.
“Since the incident, our engineers have been on site working with the emergency services.
“Following a thorough investigation, we can confirm that the gas mains and service pipes in the area are sound and were not the cause of the incident in Kingstanding. The matter now lies with other agencies for further investigation.”
A for sale advert for the house posted two months ago included information about the boiler, which “needed replacing”.
West Midlands Fire Service investigators remain at the scene trying to find the exact cause of the explosion.
In a recent public update, WMFS told: “Wed 29 June, it is likely that demolition work will be needed at the scene, following which the next stage of investigations can be planned.”
Words by Erdington Local editorial team – pics from West Midlands Fire Service
The bravery and generosity of the Kingstanding community has shone through following the tragic house explosion last night.
In the minutes after the blast, 15 local residents tried to save those trapped in the rubble of the burning Dulwich Road house.
And within hours, donations for the families in the houses destroyed or damaged began pouring in and a JustGiving page fundraising page started.
One woman died during the gas explosion; she is believed to be a pensioner who lived in the destroyed house. A man is being treated in Queen Elizabeth Hospital for serious injuries and another four people were treated for minor injuries at the scene.
One house was totally destroyed, three were seriously damaged, and several cars were hit by flying debris. West Midlands Fire Service confirmed 21 people were evacuated from their homes, some stayed with family members and others were found emergency accommodation.
Several people were taken to the Kingstanding Inn, Warren Farm Road.
Kathy, the landlady, said: “After the tragic events of last night, we want the community to know we are happy to help.
“We currently have TCI with us which is a local community charity, and have housed those in need overnight.
“Should anyone need clothing, food, or just somewhere safe to chat, please pop in anytime. One thing this has shown is how our community can pull together.”
Young father Callum Attwood raced into the home to save a stricken resident, but after being praised as a hero by the national media wanted to set the record straight this afternoon.
He said: “I don’t want no credit for any of this there was another 10-15 lads in the garden helping and doing much more. I don’t want no credit for this.”
However, despite his modesty Callum and his fellow rescuers have been hailed heroes by thousands of people of social media.
Kiara Parkinson said: “People can say what they like about Kingstanding but when it comes to it we’re some bloody good people, Callum Attwood and anybody else who put themselves at risk running into a house that’s literally burning to help others in these horrific circumstances should be so proud of themselves.”
Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road, set up a Go Fund Me page to help the ‘immediate victims of the Kingstanding house explosion.’ At the time of writing the page had received nearly £800 in donations.
He said: “Such an unpredicted accident which will leave many temporarily homeless.
“The money will be donated directly to the immediate victims to cover costs of temporary accommodation, clothing, food and anything else needed in such a tragic time.
“I don’t personally know those affected by the tragedy but as a resident of Kingstanding also I feel the community can support those affected.
Two young girls have been left “with just the clothes on their back” and Claire Deleon is also collecting donations for those in need and has already organised a charity night at Second City, Kingstanding Circle.
She said: “We are doing a collection of anything you have or can donate food, baby supplies, blankets, anything you can think of that can help the family’s out effected from the fire.
“Come on people let’s all pull together as a community, anybody can drop stuff into Second City and just let a member of staff know it’s for the collection, we will also be doing a charity day/night Friday with a live singer, there will be a collection pot, football cards etc on the day and night so please come and join us.”
The club are also donating 50p of every drink sold on Friday 1 July to help support that affected by the blast.
By Erdington Local editorial team – with images from WMFS and local residents
A woman was killed and a man is left fighting for his life after a believed gas explosion destroyed a house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, early evening yesterday.
Three other houses and surround vehicles suffered “significant damage” from the blast, which tore a hole through the quiet suburban street at around 8:38pm on Sunday 26 June.
A statement released by West Midlands Fire Service at 9:23am on Monday, 27 June, confirmed:
“We’re saddened to confirm that a woman has been found dead at the scene of the explosion.
“The man who was taken to hospital informed us there may have been another person in the property where the explosion happened.
“The woman’s body was recovered overnight. Our thoughts and sympathies are with everyone affected.
“We would like to thank members of the local community for their continued support, understanding and patience.”
The woman’s body was not immediately recovered, but following the explosion people at the scene were able to rescure a man trapped in the wreckage, who was then taken “on blue lights” to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after sustaining “life threatening” injuries.
Four further men were assessed by ambulance crews at the scene and discharged with “minor conditions”.
Following multiple reports of an explosion, with reports of it being heard over miles away from the scene, emergency services and utility companies were immediately called to the scene – including West Midlands Fire and Ambulance Services, the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), the MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic, West Midlands CARE team, and an emergency planner.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “One property has been completely destroyed with three others badly damaged. Cars have also been damaged.
“A man was helped from the property by people at the scene but had suffered very serious injuries.
“After assessment and treatment at the scene, he was taken on blue lights to the major trauma centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with the MERIT team travelling with the ambulance. His condition on arrival at hospital was described as life threatening.
“Four further men have been assessed by ambulance crews for minor conditions but have been discharged at the scene.
“Members of the Hazardous Area Response Team continue to work with specialist firefighters at the scene.”
Once emergency services arrived at the scene, the affected and surrounding properties were evacuated, with a search and rescue dog and handler mobilised at the scene – with an additional search and rescue dog from Lancashire requested to assist.
West Midlands Fire Service eventually took over command of the incident, reporting “good progress is being made by crews at the scene” by the early hours of Monday morning.
Drones were in operation to identify any possible “hot spots” with Fire Investigation teams deployed “during daylight hours” to further explore the scene.
After appealing for witnesses online, West Midlands Police had fielded responses from hundreds of concerned residents – many extending thoughts and prayers to anyone affected, offering help and support.
Some people also reached out looking for loved ones who lived on Dulwich Road, near the site of the explosion, with West Midlands Police helping them track down friends and relatives.
Others claimed they could hear the blast all across Erdington, with one local resident, Cheryl Meehan, stating: “I’ve never heard an explosion so loud & I’m about a mile away. Hope everyone involved from emergency services find the actual cause.
“Can’t be easy on a sunny evening when many people were outside. Thoughts are with injured parties & those living nearby in shock.”
Lesley Anne Slim said: “Hope everyone is OK our house shook were like 3 miles away.”
Emma Harrop added: “I heard and felt this in the centre of Sutton. My goodness it was strong, I just thought it was a particularly weird thunder clap. That’s so awful.”
Kingstanding Councillor Rick Payne was at the scene following the explosion. He told Erdington Local:
“One house has been destroyed whilst the adjoining houses have been seriously damaged, additionally houses close to the blast have sustained damage to windows and structures.
“I am here to work with the City Council haven spoken to the Chief Exec to ensure that the City Council can work towards accommodating those who have been evacuated either as a direct result of the explosion or as a precaution whilst the Emergency Services work.
I hope that there are no serious casualties and that all those affected by this incident can be returned to their homes as soon as possible.”
A statement issued by West Midlands Police later confirmed: “All emergency services and utility companies are that the scene of a house explosion on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham.
“One house is destroyed with others significantly damaged. Cars have also been damaged. 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.”
Watch live footage from the scene after suspected gas explosion on Dulwich Road