Suddenly the houses shook and an explosion tore through the terraced street, leaving families under rubble, with a woman thrown on the roof by the force of the explosion.
It was 4 o’clock in the morning on a Thursday morning in August 1985 when the residents of Grinshills Close in Toxteth were awakened by a rumbling noise.
A woman was thrown onto the roof due to the force of the explosion that destroyed most of the street.
The real miracle of the explosion was a 12-day-old baby named Jason Karmellhi who managed to survive an explosion that ransacked his house and held his mother captive and could not reach him.
Incredibly, no one was killed in the explosion, although several residents were trapped under rubble and furnishings as firefighters fought to save them.
The gas explosion took out almost an entire row of houses, destroying three houses in the chaos that unfolded.
In an Echo cover story published on August 29, 1985, Jason’s mother, Susan Karmelli, spoke of the moment she thought her tiny baby had died.
She said: “I was feeding the baby at about 3:45 in the morning and heard a big bang from next door. Then the walls began to collapse and the ceiling fell on me.
Susan, who was 22 years old at the time of the incident, was trapped under a mountain of debris for almost an hour after 4:00 a.m.
“My legs were trapped under the iron bed frame, and although I was only three feet away from the baby at that time, I just couldn’t reach it.
Firefighter Steve Allwood helped lift baby Jason out of the house without a scratch, and later told Echo: “The baby was lying face down in a tiny gap. Had it been more than a few days old and a little bigger, it would have been killed”.
Four other people – including a pregnant mother and a seven-year-old girl – also escaped with minor injuries in the explosion that completely destroyed three houses in Grinshills Close.
About 50 firefighters rushed to the scene at 4 a.m. after the alarm was triggered and, together with the neighbors, desperately searched the rubble for survivors.
The shock waves of the explosion were felt more than a mile away, and windows were smashed and roof tiles torn off in dozens of buildings in the area.
Station officer Dave Fanning of the High Park Street fire station said: “When we arrived, it was absolute chaos. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
“People were stumbling around in the dark in their nightclothes like zombies. It’s a miracle no one was killed.”
With gas still leaking, the rescuers risked their own lives and began to dig with their bare hands where they heard Jason whimpering….