Neighbours pay tribute to couple killed in Alfreton house explosion

Neighbours pay tribute to married couple killed in an explosion at a house in Riddings yesterday (Sunday)

Neighbours pay tribute to married couple killed in an explosion at a house in Riddings yesterday (Sunday)

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Neighbours have paid tribute to a married couple after they were killed in an explosion at their home.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of an explosion at a home in Valley View Road, Riddings, at about 7.30am yesterday (Sunday).

Derbyshire police confirmed last night that the bodies of a man and a woman were found in the bedroom of the house by fire investigators, who searched the building when the fire was extinguished and it was safe to enter.

It is believed the deceased are a married couple, and they are being named locally as Simon and Shelley Saxton-Cooper.

Officers said their families have been informed but they have not been formally identified.

Mum Claire Rhodes, of Valley View Road, said: “It’s just a total tragedy what happened, it’s so sad.

“I think everyone is still very shocked by what happened and I think it will take people some time to get over it.

“My thoughts are with the family.”

Chris Titchmarsh, of Valley View Road, whose house is next door to the affected property, said: “I heard two loud explosions about 7.30am yesterday.

“Then I saw neighbours outside and there was fire out on the garden and all flames coming out of the house.”

Wife Jayne said: “We just got our children out of the house so fast when we realised what had happened.

“I suppose we were lucky, though.”

She added: “We used to see them walking their big dog, Molly, early every morning. It will be very strange not to see them again.

“Theyy will both be dearly missed by everyone on the street. My heart goes out to all of their family.”

Paying tribute on Faceboook, Lisa Smith said: “Rip Shelley and her hubby. Lovely couple. I never really saw you apart, and together in this awful tragedy. My thoughts are with Jean, Malc and there beloved dog, Molly. Fly high.”

Off duty fireman Paul Archer, of Oakland Crescent, who lives just metres from the property, said he attended the incident.

He said: “I was in bed [yesterday] morning when I heard a loud crashing noise. I think it must have been when an explosion pushed the bricks out.”

Paul said he and wife Jane went outside and he entered the property.

Jane continued, as Paul was summoned by a fire officer mid interview: “The lady who lives next door used her key to let Paul in. He went upstairs but said both the bedrooms were blown out.”

Jane said: “We are not sure if the couple were in at the time. Nobody tried to escape and we haven’t been told anything else.”

Chief Inspector Steve Pont, from Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “This is an awful tragedy. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the two people who have lost their lives.”