Ayr explosion hero dug young boy from the rubble in desperate bid to save his life

Hero Alex Craig has told how he dug a young victim of the Ayr explosion from the rubble of his home to save his life.

Delivery driver Alex, 34, helped the 11-year-old boy, checking his wounds and the youngster was then rushed to hospital by Alex’s brother in law for emergency help.

Helped by four other neighbours, Alex immediately ran towards the danger after the huge blast on Monday evening.

Before dust had even settled on the wreckage of the home at Gorse Park, he could see just one person moving.

He and other friends dug the 11-year-old boy from the blast zone and took him to his home just 50 yards away at Fern Brae.

His intervention came so soon after the blast that he had no idea how many other people, if any, were still under the rubble.

Overhead view of the blast

Alex and his stunned partner Vicky decided to head straight for hospital after being urged to do so by the first ambulance driver to arrive on the scene.

Alex said: “I was out the back when I heard the blast and it sounded like a bomb had landed.

“I was shocked but I guess I instinctively ran towards the biggest wreckage because it was obvious that people would be caught in the blast and could be in the wreckage.

“There was still dust and debris flying around the air but I got to the main heap of rubble and I could see a lying there, covered in debris.

“By this time a few other local guys had come out, same as me, and we started digging him out.

“It looked like his arm was badly broken and he couldn’t see because he had all the dust in his face and his lungs.

“I took him into my own house and my partner tried to make sure he didn’t have any catastrophic wounds.

“It was hard to see what was happening because the wee boy’s pyjamas had melted to his skin.

“My partner has luckily just finished a first aid course and she knew what to do, so she cleaned him up and we asked him questions about his name and where he lived and what school he went to, just to make sure he was alert and not concussed.”

Gas experts were probing the cause of the blast and ensuring the area was safe

Alex and Vicky handed the boy over to his brother in law James and his partner Stephanie.

Alex said: “We asked whether or not we should do the run to hospital and the police and ambulance guys who were there said just to go as fast as we could . They said that staff at Crosshouse Hospital would be told we were coming and to be ready for us.

“The wee boy was awake and he was asking where his parents were and I think he was confused. He was asking where they were.

“He’d have been traumatised about being rushed to hospital but it was important to get him there as soon as possible.”

While the youngster was being rushed to hospital, Alex returned to the scene to watch his parents and brother being taken out of the remains of their home.

He said: “I was still in a total state of shock and unable to take in what was happening but I was just hoping and hoping that they will all pull through this.

“If you heard the sound of the explosion and saw the aftermath you would not believe that anyone could survive. We are just praying that there is good news.”

The 77-year-old neighbour of the family was lucky to avoid injury.

Betty Campbell and daughter Sandra, 50, were helped out of a window that had been blown out in the blast.

Betty and Sandra were taken to the home of family members to take refuge, wondering when they will be allowed back home.

Her niece Allana Rennie posted on Facebook: “I’m so overwhelmed with everyone’s help I can hardly type for tears.

“Thankfully Granny Betty and Aunty Sandra escaped with their lives and have nothing but the clothes on their back.”

Allana appealed for friends to donate emergency clothes for the pair and was inundated with the response.

Local people reported a strong smell of gas at Gorse Park prior to the blast – with several saying they reported the smell to gas supplier. Gas company Scottish Gas Networks has denied being asked to attend the scene prior top the explosion.

Gary Burgess, 45, said: “The smell of gas on Monday was so strong when I went for my morning paper. People were talking about it and you’re always thinking at the back of your mind there could be an explosion.

“When the blast happened I was sure that a lorry had driven into the side of my house, which is 100 yards down the road from Gorse Park.

“I heard people say that several complaints had been made to the suppliers so I’d be very interested to see what they have to say about that. “

He added: “All I can say right now is that I hope those involved in the blast get through it. But there needs to be an inquiry to get to the bottom of how it happened.”

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