63-year-old man dies after house destroyed by gas explosion
A 63-year-old man has died after a UK house was destroyed by a suspected gas explosion, police have said.
An officer at the scene told reporters that they believe the man is a resident of the address and have informed "various members of his family".
"Formal identification is yet to take place. It will be some time before we can retrieve the body as the scene is still in a state of disarray. We need to be sure everyone is safe before doing that," he added.
Emergency services were called to the detached building this morning.
They said they believed the cause to be a gas explosion but this has not been confirmed yet.
"Both properties either side are quite badly damaged," said a North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue representative at the scene.
He described the affected property as a "pile of rubble at the moment".
He added: "It has all the signs of a gas explosion but we cannot confirm that until we get the investigation under way."
Inspector Steve Breen of North Yorkshire Police said at the scene that there is nothing suspicious about the circumstances of the incident at the moment, but that they will be doing a "full investigation to make sure that nothing is missed".
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police confirmed they were called to the scene at around 7.30am.
More than 30 firefighters were also deployed - working to extinguish several small blazes on arrival before conducting a search of the scene.
The urban search and rescue team are also in attendance as well as Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who checked over two further people at the scene, although they did not require hospital treatment.
People in the street said they did not believe anyone was in the house at the time.
Windows in the neighbouring houses in the leafy residential cul-de-sac were blown out and debris has been scattered across the road and gardens.
People have been urged to stay away from the scene, and remain indoors if they live in the area.
"Emergency services urge members of the public to remain indoors and away from a major incident ongoing in #HaxbyYork. Please stay safe," the force tweeted.
The explosion sounded like a crash, one local said.
The man, who did not wish to be named, was around 150 yards away at the time and described the loud bang which he said had "flattened" the property and damaged others nearby.
"The house has been completely flattened. It sounded as if a bus or something had crashed into a house, or like an aeroplane crash," he told the Press Association.
"All the properties adjacent to the one that's blown up have got damaged windows and garages."
The man said other people had told him they did not think anyone was in the property at the time.
He said: "Neighbours didn't think there was anyone there."
A tweet from PCSO Shuttleworth said: "A house has been destroyed in what we believe to be a gas explosion. Fire, ambulance & police are all on scene working hard in order to ensure the safety of the public."
Local residents reported their houses were shaken by the blast, which some thought was an earthquake.
Sophie Pea tweeted: "Wtf I swear something just exploded in Haxby. My whole house just shook."
Another, named as Ellie Hig, posted: "Did everyone else in Haxby hear that?????? Ok now I can hear sirens. Praying no one was in that house."
Amy Hewitt wrote: "Woah has there been an explosion in Haxby the house just shook?"
At the scene, the road was cordoned off and four fire engines could be seen outside the destroyed house.
The detached houses either side of the property were badly damaged.
The windows had been blown out of one neighbouring house and the roofs of many houses on the street had been damaged by the explosion.
Neighbours said the blast was heard across the area this morning.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said she felt the explosion from a street away.
She said: "There was a tremendous bang this morning. It shook the bed and the whole house."