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Tributes pour in for woman, 79, killed in Birmingham explosion
28 June 2022, 09:51 | Updated: 28 June 2022, 10:22
Tributes have poured in for a woman killed when an explosion destroyed a house in Birmingham on Sunday evening.
Doreen Rees-Bibb, 79, died after an explosion caused a terraced house in Kingstanding, northern Birmingham, to burst into flames and collapse, leaving her buried under several feet of rubble on Sunday evening.
Friends have paid emotional homage to the mother-of-two on Facebook, saying they are "absolutely heartbroken" by the news.
"Thoughts to all your family and friends at this tragic time," Alex Lindsey Stanley wrote.
Another said Doreen would be "dearly missed by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and the rest of her family and friends.... we love you and miss you."
A friend wrote that Doreen had "a beautiful smile and kind eyes".
"My thoughts go out to Doreen, her family and friends and to the man still bravely battling his injuries. RIP Doreen, watch over your injured friend and give him strength to fight."
Doreen's partner David Murphy was pulled from the burning building seriously injured by a dozen fearless members of the public after they dug through the rubble to reach him.
He was carried to safety on a mattress shortly after the home was blown apart around 8:30pm on Sunday and was still in a "critical" condition in hospital, emergency services said on Monday afternoon.
Friends told the Sun, who named Rees-Bibb, that she was "the life and soul of the party" and has a "heart of gold".
A family member said: "She was full of warmth and love, and she had a heart of pure gold. We are all distraught.
"She was almost 80 but she was still full of live. We don't know what's happened, if there was a gas leak or some kind of fault. We are just waiting for answers."
David's niece Terri Ann Noble, 42, a full time mum from Stockton-on-Tees, told the outlet: "David is a lovely man, he's so funny and he'll do anything for anybody.
"His children Dean and Kate will be going through hell right now, they absolutely adore him, they love him to bits.
"He hasn't been the same since my Auntie Lynn died from breast cancer a few years back and it's just awful that he's going through this right now.
"We're all hoping he's okay and pulls through."
The blast happened in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham, with officers being called out at 8.38pm on Sunday. The explosion was reportedly heard from half a mile away.
It saw debris blasted to the other side of the street, neighbouring properties damaged and a tree shredded.
The West Midlands Fire Service said it "was clear that a gas explosion had taken place", and that rumours the property's boiler had needed replacing before the fire "may form part of the investigation".
More than 20 people were evacuated nearby and a handful were treated at the scene for minor wounds.
The fire service said good progress was being made at the scene and a drone was being used to identify hot spots.
Kelly Monaghan, chief inspector of West Midlands Police, said: "There was some really heroic actions from members of the community."
Residents told the PA news agency they clambered past flaming debris and through dust and rubble shortly after the blast to pull the injured man alive from the ruins of the property, on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding.
One of the Good Samaritans, who declined to give his name, said: "Everyone was watching, the house was on fire, nobody was going in, so we could see a way in. So we went in the house, me and about a dozen others.
"There was a guy in the back. We could hear the guy screaming, but he was trapped up against the fridge in the kitchen. The dust from the loft insulation was burning around us.
"We managed to get to him and pull him out - I still have his blood on my jeans. He ended up coming out on a mattress, but he was saying there was a woman in the house."
The rescuer said: "His clothes had been blown off. You couldn't even see him, he was covered in blood."
He added: "We could hear the man, geezer, screaming, and we dug him out. He was in the kitchen, lying flat on the floor, with his back against a fridge or washing machine. "He was going, 'Don't pull me - my legs', and I said, 'Mate, we're going to have to take you out now'."
The rescuers tried to douse their clothes with water from damaged pipes to protect themselves from the flames.