Portsmouth mum and son left with serious burns after house explosion now out of hospital as government investigates blast
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Denise Smy and her son Gary have been moved into St Ronan’s nursing home in Southsea after being released from a specialist burns unit at Salisbury Hospital after their Nelson Avenue house in North End blew up on October 22.
The pair miraculously survived after Royal Navy Petty Officer Jon Thornber, a neighbour, rescued them from the burning wreck.
But the impact of the blast on Denise, 82, and Gary, 56, is still being felt with burns on their hands still ‘really bad’, according to Denise’s younger sister Sylvia Fisher.
Meanwhile, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now investigating – leading to plans to knock down the house and rebuild it ‘grinding to a halt’.
However, with more than £7,000 now raised for the couple and dozens of cards and letters from wellwishers, Denise and Gary remain in ‘good spirits’ considering their ordeal.
Sylvia said: ‘They are out of the burns unit now and in a nursing home being looked after. Both of their hands are still really bad. Gary had stitches in his fingers and Denise had a skin graft which has not healed.
‘Gary is very stoic and is not worried about things.
‘There’s no update on when they will take the house down now the HSE has got involved which has led to things grinding to a halt. There was good progress before.
‘We still don’t know where the leak came from. They didn’t have a gas fire, the cooker was electric and the boiler was in the back garden.
‘We’re not sure when they will be able to go back in and salvage whatever’s left.’
Despite difficulties, though, the efforts of the community and Gary’s employer Tesco in Cosham have been a tower of strength for the bereft duo.
Tesco had raised £4,500 in November but has now collected a staggering £7,000 while also offering to refurbish Gary’s new residence and buying him a new Playstation.
The company also plans on holding a ‘red carpet’ event to honour their loyal employee of 33 years when he is well enough.
‘It’s so nice what everyone has done. We are all so grateful, it’s really helped them,’ Sylvia said.
‘Gary’s also had lots of customers and old friends or people that knew him sending in cards to Tesco.’
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An HSE spokesman said: ‘We are investigating, we cannot comment any further at this time.’