Hornchurch explosion: Terrified couple thrown across room by force of powerful blast

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 January 2017

Bridge Point, Hornchurch.

Bridge Point, Hornchurch.

Sam Brown

Nothing could have prepared a young couple for the trauma they were about to endure.

Bobbie Leonard, 24, was sitting watching television with her boyfriend at her Bridge Point flat like any other Monday night when an explosion erupted, throwing them and the sofa across the room as the walls and ceiling fell down around them.

“All of a sudden, we were on the other side of the living room and a 6x4 mirror fell on top of my head,” she said.

“At first I thought a lorry hit the building, the force of the explosion was so strong. All I could see was black smoke and dust.

“We went to go to the front door but there was no hallway, there was just flames and my bedroom and toilet was in the front room so we were trapped.

“I couldn’t see anything, it was so dark and there was this toxic smell in the air. The only light we could see was coming from the flames.

“My boyfriend managed to find a window, smashed something, threw it and got me out of there – it was like a movie.

“I know if he wasn’t there, I 100 per cent would have died.”

On the night of the incident, fellow tenant Darren Lawrence, 47, described how the whole building shook with debris, hitting cars passing by on the A12.

He said: “I was terrified.”

Bobbie stayed with her mum and then her sister for the first couple of nights following the explosion, but has now been moved into a hotel.

She suffered from a back injury and says the incident has left her with nothing but fear.

“I have lost everything, I wasn’t even wearing shoes when we escaped.

“I had stuff from my nan and grandad who passed away that I’ll never get back and I’m devastated.

“It sounds silly but I can’t turn light switches on and I’m scared if I hear strange noises because I think it’s going to happen again.

“The support from friends, family and even people that I don’t know has been phenomenal.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

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