An investigation has been launched following an explosion that left one man dead and his brother injured.
A 52-year-old named locally as Stuart Taylor was killed instantly when the suspected gas blast ripped through the upstairs of his home in Brandon, near Durham.
His brother Trevor, 66, was in the downstairs of the property and managed to escape. He is being treated in hospital.
Emergency services received numerous calls from neighbours after the blast shattered the peace on the usually quiet Moor Edge at around 6.30pm yesterday.
Four fire engines and around 18 firefighters attended the scene, but by the time crews entered the house there was nothing they could do to save Mr Taylor, who was in an upstairs bedroom at the time of the explosion.
His body had to be left there amid fears there could be another blast, as police began to investigate the cause of the tragedy.
Police and fire investigators were last night still working to establish what caused the blast.
One neighbour told The Journal he thought Mr Taylor may have been using a gas-powered heater in his bedroom.
Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s area manager Keith Wanley said: “All the calls were reporting an explosion which had blown the roof off and also taken out the windows upstairs and down.
“With that kind of pressure in the building, it is what you would expect from an explosion, but the inquiry is ongoing to determine the source and cause of the incident.
“The 66-year-old was downstairs and that is what saved his life. He had cuts to his feet from the glass as he left but was found outside and taken to hospital. The man who died was upstairs and he was obviously deceased when we got to him, so he was left in that position for the investigation to take place.”
Yesterday police kept the street cordoned off to continue their probe and the investigation team, including a dog, could be seen working in the remains of the building.
Stuart Errington, deputy chief fire officer for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentleman at this tragic time.
“As a service we aim to protect and educate the members of our communities about the dangers of fire.
“At a time like this we are reminded of the dangers of fire and urge people to take up our offer of free home fire-safety advice and to fit smoke alarms in their properties.”
There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the blast.