A house exploded at the weekend, leaving an elderly woman with serious injuries.

Fire crews were called to Barn Park, Buckfastleigh, at around 7.50am after local residents heard a loud explosion.

Fire engines from Buckfastleigh, Ashburton, Ivybridge and an Environmental Protection Unit from Newton Abbot attended the incident. Police, ambulance and representatives from Wales and West Utilities were also at the scene.

Marilyn Rice, 65, sustained burns and was airlifted to hospital. She remains in hospital in Bristol at this time. It’s reported that she was brushing her teeth when the blast destroyed her bungalow in Buckfastleigh.

A second person was treated for minor injuries at the scene

Other nearby residents were evacuated while the building was being made safe.

Neighbour Tom Hall, who lives 30 meters from the blasted property in Barn Park, said the fact that the woman survived was a miracle.

He added: "I am not sure any of us saw the actual explosion, but it woke most of us up.

"If you have never heard a gas explosion before, you couldn’t have guessed what that sound was.

"It’s a bizarre, metallic sound.

"My girlfriend went there and she saw the woman walking out of the property.

"I don’t know how she managed to walk out alive to be honest. The force of the impact blew the door opposite open.

"It is absolutely insane. There is significant damage.

"The house to the right, the joining wall is gone. Luckily the chap was out when it happened.

"There is debris on the road and cars are smashed up. It was quite intense but luckily no one died."

Tom said residents have been asked by the fire service to stay inside with their windows closed until further notice.

Other locals described hearing a loud bang that left them thinking their windows were going to smash.

One wrote on Facebook: "A young lad in his 20s had to help the poor lady out from the rubble.

"I watched him with my heart in my mouth.

"He and a couple of others were real heroes getting neighbours out also.

"I hope someone is now giving him a strong cup of tea and a hug."

Another added: "The house shook. I am just round the corner and my garden overlooks the location.

"By the looks of it, the house is in tatters.

"I just hope everyone is OK."

Buckfastleigh Fire Station said: “On arrival we found that one property was severely damaged by the blast and two others suffering serious structural damage along with a number of vehicles in the road hit by debris.

“Unfortunately the occupant of the property had suffered burns during the blast to which we administered first aid while waiting the arrival of the ambulance.

“We worked closely with our colleagues from the police and ambulance service to ensure the area was made safe so that the investigation into the cause of the explosion can begin.

“We would like to pass on our thanks to local residents who were magnificent in helping all involved and also in providing help to the emergency services on arrival and during the incident and finally we send our best wishes to the lady injured in the property and wish her a full and speedy recovery.”

A representative of Buckfastleigh Town Council said: “On Saturday, an explosion ripped through sheltered housing in Buckfastleigh, badly injuring one person, injuring others and causing substantial damage to three homes.

“Our thoughts are with those affected and our thanks go to everyone who helped and are continuing to support those who need assistance.

“Our community response has been amazing, and everything that you would we expect from such a close knit and caring town.”

They shared a Go Fund Me page set up by David Patrick to raise money for the residents affected. It has already raised more than £1,000 in just over 24 hours.

David, the lead co-ordinator for the Buckfastleigh Volunteer Emergency Response Team, never expected it to raise so much money.

“I thought setting the target at £1,000 was a bit high” he said, “but to have reached that in less than 24 hours is amazing. I’m gobsmacked.”

Talking about why he set the fund up in the first place, he said: “I’m part of the volunteer response team and we opened up the town hall for people if they needed it and after seeing the photos of the scene I realised how much people would have lost.

“There was already such an amazing response from neighbours taking people in, funding them clothes and toiletries, and I just wanted to raise a bit more to get them back on their feet.”

The Buckfastleigh Volunteer Emergency Response Team was set up by Pam Barratt following the flooding in 2012 and this was the first time they had kicked into action.

Teign Housing, who provide the sheltered housing at Barn Park, released a statement saying: “Thank you to everyone who has helped support our customers today. Working together with the emergency services, Buckfastleigh Town Council and other partners has ensured customers have received the help they’ve needed on what we know has been a very difficult day for the community.

“We wanted to let everyone know that all those affected have had support and, where needed, now have temporary accommodation.

“We still have no update on the cause of the incident, but we will be co-operating fully with any investigations and working with the relevant organisations across the coming days and weeks on this.

“When we have confirmed facts, we will share that information.

“Our continued thoughts go to our customer who remains in hospital, and her family and friends.”

A representative of Wales and West Utilities said: “We were alerted to reports of an explosion at a property in Barn Park, Buckfastleigh, on Saturday morning and immediately sent a team of engineers to the scene.

“We are supporting the emergency services as they investigate the cause of the explosion, but can confirm that it was not caused by the mains gas network.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this incident.”

Police enquiries remain ongoing. Anyone with information relating to the incident is asked to contact police on 101 quoting log 216 23/3/19.