Kingstanding’s house blast neighbor says toilet break ‘saved my life’

A woman died and a man fought for his life in the blast in Birmingham after a house burned down around 8:30pm. Neighbors had lowered their blankets

Lami Charlery was lucky to be alive
Lami Charlery was lucky to be alive

A father who lives next to a house that blew up in Birmingham has told how a well-timed bathroom break saved his life from the deadly blast.

Residents in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, have described the horrific moment houses shook and ceilings collapsed during a gas explosion last night.

A woman died and a man fought for his life after a house burned down around 8:30 p.m.

Lami Charlery had been playing on his computer in his living room but had rushed to the bathroom when the massive explosion brought down the ceiling of his living room – right where he had been sitting.

Mr Charlery, 40, said: “The ceiling came down and the glass came in. If I were in another room, I wouldn’t be alive. I’m lucky to be alive.

“There was a big explosion. I grabbed the door and fell back.

Ambulance services at the crime scene at Kingstanding in Birmingham



“I didn’t know what was going on. The ceiling had broken through.

“I ran outside and heard someone yelling ‘help’ from behind.

“We were about 10 to 15 of us. As we went to help him, we could hear it (the hiss of the fire).”

Mr Charlery said people were helping to get the injured man out of the blasted house when emergency services arrived.

The father-of-two, who was home alone, said he was grateful to the local community for helping the six evacuated families find a place to sleep for the night.

There was a tremendous bang



The families – including four children – were accommodated for the night by friendly staff at The Kingstanding Inn.

Mr Charlery said: “I’m still in shock at the moment.

“I’m losing my breath. I’m not in the right place right now.

“Everyone was so nice, very nice people to help us. It takes something like that to let you know everyone cares.”

A neighbor next door, who asked not to be named, described hearing two loud bangs before his ceiling ruptured and landed on his living room floor in front of him.

He said: “There were two explosions – a first explosion and then a massive explosion.

The house from above



“My blanket folded and landed in my living room next to me. I then sat there and looked at the sky.

“I only got a few scratches and managed to get myself out.”

Mark Pearman, 49, described the dramatic moments before emergency services arrived, when about 30 people rushed to help a man who heard screams inside.

Mr Pearman said: “We heard a massive explosion and our bodies were shaking.

“Plumes of smoke covered the street. Where the house should have been was a pile of rubble and massive flames.

“About 30 young people rushed to help.

A woman died in the explosion


West Midlands Fire Brigade/ SWNS)

“One group was in front, the other went around the back. We formed a human chain and gradually walked past the rubble.

“Some of the young guys held up a wooden beam and a woman, a resident who is a sports physiotherapist, pulled the man out.

“They placed him on a mattress that had been blown up from the house and emergency services arrived.”

Neighbors were evacuated



Mark, his partner Sue and their dog were among the families forced to flee their homes overnight.

Sue, 48, said: “I was actually in bed and I heard this almighty bang and the whole house was shaking.

“Before you knew it, we were out of the house and the house three doors down was on fire. [The pub] helped many families who would have been left without a place to stay last night.”

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