British woman rescued from flames after explosion in French house

Residents of the Aude village of Bellegarde-du-Razès were disturbed by the blast on Friday night, and rushed to help the woman, who suffered burns to her body

25 October 2021

The woman was able to leave the house herself, but was then helped by neighbours Pic: fluke samed / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

A British woman managed to escape from her burning house in Aude after an explosion in her kitchen shook the nearby neighbourhood.

At 21:03 on Friday (October 22), inhabitants of the village of Bellegarde-du-Razès – southwest of Carcassonne – were disturbed by the sound of a blast originating from the house of a British couple who had recently moved to the area. 

Each of the house’s windows shattered, with shards of glass landing all around. 

Around 25 firefighters from Montréal and Limoux arrived in three fire engines soon after the explosion, along with two ambulances. 

Emergency doctors from the Service Mobile d'Urgence et Reanimation (Mobile Emergency and Resuscitation Service) were also sent to the scene with a helicopter from Samu 31 in Toulouse. 

“At first there was a huge explosion, followed by several smaller ones,” said a resident who lives near to the house. “It was shocking: flames were reaching up through the ripped open roof.”

The British woman was the only person inside the house at the time, and was able to get out on her own. However, her clothes had caught fire. 

“I immediately went to look for a blanket to cover her and put out the flames on her body,” the neighbour added. 

The village’s deputy mayors, Jean-Marie Chapput and Marc Lemonier also approached the house to offer their help. 

They said that the woman managed to remain upright, and that a local nurse took care of her while they waited for the emergency services to arrive. 

The woman, who is about 60 years old, was badly burnt all over her body. She was treated at the scene and then taken to the commune of Belvèze-du-Razès, where the helicopter was waiting for her. 

She was then treated at the burns unit of Hôpital Rangueil in Toulouse. 

Gendarmes have since carried out investigations on the house in order to understand what happened. 

Their initial findings suggest that the woman was alone in her kitchen when a pocket of gas exploded on the flick of a power switch. 

The investigation continues. 

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