Woman, 61, killed in 'gas blast' which destroyed her home was on FaceTime to boyfriend at time of explosion

A WOMAN killed in a suspected gas blast that destroyed her home was on FaceTime to her boyfriend at the time of the explosion, an inquest heard.

Hazel Wilcock, 61, was found in the rubble of her home in Bury, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18.

Five others, including a child, were injured in the horror blast.

An inquest into Ms Wilcock's death was opened at Rochdale Coroner's Court today.

Police coroner's officer Jane Scullion told the court: "Hazel was at her home address and was having a FaceTime call with her partner when an explosion took place, causing the phone to disconnect and cut off.

"All emergency services attended the scene.

"Ms Wilcock's property was completely destroyed and there was damage to two neighbouring properties.

"Ms Wilcock was in a seating position, on the sofa, at the time of the FaceTime call."

Ms Scullion said the fire service has not gathered any evidence of 'suspicious activity' and other investigations are still taking place, Manchester Evening News reports.

The provisional cause of Ms Wilcock's death was recorded as 'traumatic asphyxia'.

Assistant coroner Michael Salt said an inquest is "inevitably needed".

A date is yet to be fixed for the full inquest but Mr Salt said that the file will be reviewed on May 24.

Tributes have poured in for Ms Wilcock, who worked as a counsellor for St Ann's Hospice.

Chief executive of the hospice, Rachel McMillan said: "Everyone at the hospice is extremely shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Hazel's death, and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.

"Hazel had been part of the St Ann's team for four years as a senior counsellor in our Patient and Family Support Team, working hard to support the people we care for and those closest to them.

"She was a much-loved member of the hospice family, always compassionate, and always focused on ensuring the very best care for our patients."


And neighbour, June Winsche, told MEN: "She had lots of friends and loved entertaining and I'd always be invited over for meals.

"Hazel was just so kind. We went on retreats together and she took
time with me when I was going through a very bad time.

"She was a counsellor so had amazing listening skills and I am aware
she helped a lot more people.

"She was very inspirational and pushed me to start my own business
because she believed in me so much."

Close friend, Amanda Webber, wrote on Facebook: "A beautiful soul
inside and out.

"It was a pleasure to have known you and to have worked for you, may
you Rest in eternal peace and your smile shine down on us all.

"You shall be sadly missed by all who knew you.R.I.P Hazel xx."

While Andrea Procter wrote: "Hazel you were such an inspiration and fantastic friend.

"Devastating news. So sad."


Neighbours who raced to help the survivors in Summerseat, Gtr Manchester, said the blast was heard three streets away.

Kerry Crompton said: “It is so sad about the lady. I used to see her walking her dog.

“I’ve been told that, at the time, she was in the living room on a video call to her friends. That must have been ­horrific for those people.”

The mum of two, 36, told how she pulled her neighbour — named only as Stephanie — her daughter Evie and dog Besti from the wreckage of the home.

She said: “They were both absolute black. Stephanie was screaming. I just grabbed them and got them out. The little girl was hysterical.”

A friend of the pair said they were lucky to be alive.

Builder Paul Camprey, 41, said: “There was a massive boom and the doors and windows shook. The whole house had been destroyed.”

Thirty homes were evacuated, with some families allowed back yesterday.

Greater Manchester Police said a woman and child were taken to hospital with minor injuries and three others treated at the scene, Police, the fire service, the council and gas suppliers are investigating.

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