Bedford explosion hero fears neighbour is dead after saving dog from smoke-filled flat
A hero survivor of the Bedford gas explosion fears her neighbour may be dead after she broke into her flat and saved her dog.
Karina Caetano rescued the Chihuahua after hearing a huge explosion above her two-bedroom apartment in Redwood Grove, Bedford, yesterday.
The 24-year-old pulled the animal out of a smoke-filled bedroom but she is now terrified her neighbour was in one of the other rooms.
No-one has heard from the resident since a gas explosion tore apart the complex, killing one person.
Bedfordshire Police has warned that more bodies could be found in the building’s ruins over the coming days.
Mrs Caetano told The Mirror: “I was sitting in my living room and I heard an explosion above me. I can’t explain the sound, it was shocking.
“I looked out of the window and saw bricks on the grass in the common area. Then I put my head out, looked up and saw a hole in the building.
“I grabbed my keys and ran outside barefoot. When I realised it was real and not a dream I ran back inside the house.
“The corridor was full of smoke. I started knocking on my neighbours’ doors. One of my neighbours, was directly below where the explosion was.
“I banged on her door and it opened. I walked into her apartment yelling for her. It was full of smoke and I couldn’t see her.”
Mrs Caetano said she could only see into the room on her left – a bedroom where her neighbour kept her dog Dasha.
“I saw her Chihuahua was in his crate so I grabbed him and ran out,” she added.
“My neighbour’s car was still parked outside when I ran out. Everyone is worried about her. Her friends and I are scared she died in the fire. The police will not tell us anything.
“We have been trying to contact her since yesterday. She was last online on WhatsApp at 9.06am and the fire happened at around 9.15am.”
Bedfordshire Police has been approached for comment.
Mrs Caetano said she did not know how the fire started and did not wish to speculate.
She said the blaze spread rapidly after the explosion, with flames engulfing the building in a matter of minutes.
During her escape, the university student stepped on some broken glass, although she only suffered minor injuries.
She thinks the majority of her belongings were destroyed in the explosion, although she managed to grab her holiday bag – which contained her passport, wallet and a few other things – before fleeing.
However, it is the sentimental items that Mrs Caetano is most upset about losing.
“The first two floors collapsed on top of our flat. It’s likely nothing can be saved,” she said.
“My partner has some contents insurance but we don’t know the extent of it. We don’t care about the furniture, we can buy things again. It’s things from our childhood that we care about.
“There was a bracelet that my mum gave me which was passed down through the generations and was in a little jewellery box in the flat.”
Her husband, Adelson Junior, 30, who works in construction, was away at work when the explosion took place.
The couple, both from Brazil, had spent a small fortune furnishing the rental flat, which was their first proper home together after living in rooms in London.
They do not know when they will be allowed to return home as inspectors fear the rest of the building could collapse, Mrs Caetano said.
The management company that runs the complex is currently putting them up in a hotel.
Mrs Caetano’s sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help her sibling replace her destroyed belongings.
Cranfield University student Mrs Caetano is now considering starting another fund to help her neighbours get back on their feet.
Care manager Adrian Mazurkiewicz, 27, also fled the building with nothing more than the clothes on his back following the explosion yesterday.
Aerial photographs show his top floor flat has been completely destroyed by the blaze.
He said: “All of our life’s work has gone up in flames.”
Describing the moment he fled his home, he said: “There was a huge explosion at about 9.15am. I had no idea what it was. I looked out of the window and saw debris falling down from the sky like rain.
“I went to our bedroom window facing the explosion and saw a huge amount of smoke. I shouted to my partner to get out of the flat. I was banging on neighbours’ doors shouting ‘get out’ as I ran out.
“I saw one gentleman lying on the grass. He couldn’t even talk at the beginning. I tried to get him up but he wasn’t able to walk. Blood was pouring out from his hand and head.
“I managed to get him to relative safety.”
Mr Mazurkiewicz did not want to speculate on the case, although he added: “A police officer said to me that because of the unusual circumstances of the explosion it will be a high priority case.”
Chris Bigland, deputy chief fire officer for Bedfordshire, previously said: “Gas wasn’t linked to the building. There may have been gas bottles used for heating or cooking.
“It could have been a camping stove with the fuel crisis and rest of it. We can’t rule it out – we just don’t know.”
A JustGiving page has been set up by one of Mr Mazurkiewicz’s colleagues to help him replace his belongings as he does not have contents insurance.