‘We could have been killed’

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A Derry mother has said her family could have been killed in an explosion after copper thefts in an adjoining flat led to a gas leak.

Kathleen Flynn was speaking after thieves stole copper piping from an empty flat in Durrow Park last Thursday. The theft caused gas to leak into her maisonette, directly above the flat.

Mrs Flynn said she and her husband and eight month old baby had to leave their home because of the risk posed by the gas leak.

The Derry woman criticised those responsible for putting the lives of her family at risk by stealing the copper pipes. “I am disgusted,” she said. “I dread to think about what could have happened if there had been a spark or someone had struck a match. The whole place could have exploded and we could have been killed,” she added.

Explaining what happened, Mrs Flyn said; “My husband said he could smell gas so we called the gasman and he came out. I thought we had a leak in our home but he checked and couldn’t find one. The smell of gas was so strong and he put the meter through the letter box of the flat below and said that it was above evacuation levels so we had to leave,” she said.

Mrs Flynn said the theft put the lives of everyone in the area in danger. “My child is eight and a half months old and has special needs. Apart form the obvious danger of the gas igniting I was also worried about my child breathing in the gas,” she added.

The Derry mother also said she was told the cost of repairing the damage will run into thousands of pounds. “We were told that it will cost £6,500 to fix the damage in the flat below. The Housing Executive, like everybody else these days, is dealing with a tighter budget and they don’t need to be paying out this kind of money to fix deliberate damage,” she said.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue also condemned the incident. “Obviously those who carry out these wanton acts of vandalism care little about the consequences of their actions. This could have been a very, very serious situation. I am just glad that no-one was hurt or seriously injured,” she said.