Man held after Portsmouth flat blast ‘caused by air freshener’

The flat in Bransbury Mews, Henderson Road, Portsmouth after the explosion.
The flat in Bransbury Mews, Henderson Road, Portsmouth after the explosion.
Louis Makai. Picture: Sussex Police

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A 29-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested after an explosion thought to have been caused by an air freshener left a Southsea flat severely damaged.

Police and firefighters were called to the second-floor flat in Henderson Road shortly before 1.50am yesterday after the blast rocked the building.

On arrival there was no fire but French doors and the main window to the property were blown out.

Firefighters believe the explosion was caused by a battery-powered Airwick air freshener that had been left on top of a lamp – although the lamp was off when they arrived.

The male occupant, who was unhurt, had to leave the flat because it suffered structural damage but he returned after checks.

Other residents were also evacuated.

A 29-year-old man was arrested and was last night being questioned by police on suspicion of causing an explosion.

Neighbour Spencer Davies, 38, heard the explosion. He said: ‘It was that loud I thought the roof had come off.

‘I heard a loud bang, heard a little bit of a crash outside.

‘I went out the back door, had a look and couldn’t see anything.

‘Then I saw a couple downstairs coming in. I went out round the side, looked in the car park and saw his doors blown off on his balcony.

‘We thought the worst and rushed upstairs. There was no answer so that’s when the girl upstairs dialled 999.

‘Then we started knocking the doors.

‘It was a shock.’

Resident Adrian Blake, 50, said: ‘We got woken up by banging on the door. They were getting us to evacuate.

‘We were waiting out in the car park. We were out for about an hour. Then they asked us to come in and stand in the hallway all together until it was actually safe.

‘Everybody who was actually here was evacuated. It’s unbelievable. I’ve got some debris in my back garden – a piece of some window.’

Yesterday, red and white tape cordoned off the ground floor area surrounding the flat.

Sid Grant from Southsea fire station said the occupant had been in the living room, left and shut the door when the explosion happened.

He said: ‘It came through as a gas explosion in a second-floor flat. When we arrived there was no fire.

‘There had been an explosion whereby it had blown out the French doors and the main window of the flats and created some structural damage.

‘The explosion pushed a wall out about an inch and there were cracks in the walls of the apartment.

‘There wasn’t a gas leak as such.

‘What we put it down to was an air freshener. It was battery operated and lets out a puff of perfume now and again and it had projected from across the room, back across the ceiling.’

Eight firefighters from Southsea station and a senior officer were at the scene for about an hour-and-a-half and advised that a structural engineer should be called out to assess the damage.

Mr Grant added: ‘The air freshener was placed over the top of a lamp but they said it hadn’t been on.

‘There was quite a large amount of damage for something like that.’

Police also attended.