A pensioner buried under the remains of his home following a gas explosion at Carnkie this morning was "on fire" when pulled from the rubble, according to an eyewitness.

The man has been named locally as Michael Coddington, who is said to have been buried under the rubble when his bungalow came down around him.

He is understood to have been injured in the explosion, with one eyewitness describing how his clothes appeared to be burnt to his skin and there was an open wound to his head, but alive.

The village was rocked by two explosions just before 12.30am, believed to be gas cylinders going up.

Falmouth Packet:

  • A view of the back of the bungalow and damaged neighbouring property

One of the first people on the scene was former marine Richard Chalkley, who was still up when the first explosion went off.

He told the Packet: "I went to the [next door] neighbours and they were in shock - the woman seemed to be hyperventilating.

"I started waking neighbours and got them outside. When I came back that's when the second explosion happened.

"One of the guys, Richard, I saw him rummaging around in the rubble and I was trying to get him out - I couldn't make sense of what he was saying, so I shouted for him to get away. They were pulling somebody out, but I didn't know.

"[Later I saw] the bloke seemed to be on fire. They managed to put him out and the clothes seemed to be burnt on his skin, and his head was open."

Mr Chalkley said he had not slept all night because he felt so bad for not going in to try to rescue Mr Coddington, who he did not realise was inside.

"I had been shouting but I couldn't hear him because the fire was so loud. I should have gone in there but I didn't know anybody was in there. I was in the military, so you know not to go in.

"I just feel so bad. I managed to get everybody else out, but I should have helped the other guy. I just thought he were trying to turn the gas out," he added.

Mr Chalkley, who is originally from Florida, initially thought it was a lightning strike when his house "shook for some seconds."

Falmouth Packet:

  • Nearby cars were showered with rubble by the force of the explosion

The bungalow is opposite the former Bible Christian Chapel and metres from Carnkie Village Hall.

The couple in the other half of the semi-detached bungalow, which has also been seriously damaged, were taken in by neighbours across the road and were said to be still in shock this morning.

Other neighbours who also had to be evacuated - including, it is believed, a mother with a five-year-old son and a baby daughter - also went to stay with friends in the village and their houses remain cordoned off this morning.

The force of the explosion blew holes in the roof of Penelope and John Eddy's bungalow, four doors away, and smashed windows.

Falmouth Packet:

  • Penelope Eddy in her flooded conservatory

Mrs Eddy said early this morning: "It's horrendous. It was frightening. We heard a blast and I thought it must have been a thunderbolt, then the loft ladder came down with a thud. I went in the kitchen and you could see something had happened.

"Everybody got outside in the road, out the way, and then the next one went up. It was within about ten minutes of each other."

She said Richard Warren, Paul Childs and a third man - named by another person as Michael Mitchell - managed to get Mr Coddington from out of his bungalow before he was placed into the care of the ambulance service.

"He was obviously shocked but not seriously injured," she said.

Mrs Eddy also praised the emergency services, saying: "In the circumstances the police and the fire brigade were first class; helpful and they made sure everybody was safe."

Falmouth Packet:

  • The force of the explosion blew a hole in the roof of a bungalow four doors away

The couple spent the night emptying buckets of water from their conservatory, which was flooded due to the heavy rain that came in due to the damage.

"The mats are soaking, I've got things everywhere. Everything is ruined; but I'm not the only one."

A police detective and the fire investigation unit were among those at the scene this morning, as they began the process of trying to piece together the circumstances of what happened.

Falmouth Packet:

  • Emergency services meet outside the bungalow on Monday morning to begin investigations