Woman killed in devastating house explosion was ‘beautiful soul inside and out’

A “kind” woman with “amazing listening skills” has been named after she died in a devastating house explosion.

Hazel Wilcock’s body was found in the rubble of her home in Ramsbottom, Bury, yesterday.

The 61-year-old died when the mid-terraced property was reduced to rubble by the blast.

Fire crews found her body as they searched through the wreckage following the explosion at 9.20pm on Wednesday night.

Scores of friends and neighbours have paid tribute to Hazel, who worked as a counsellor for St Ann’s Hospice.

Neighbour June Winsche, who met Hazel through the village committee and from walking their dogs together, said: “She had lots of friends and loved entertaining and I’d always be invited over for meals.

“She cared for my dogs when I was away and even took in my son when we had to temporarily move out of our home when we had renovations done.

“Hazel was just so kind. We went on retreats together and she took time with me when I was going through a very bad time.

“She was a counsellor so had amazing listening skills and I am aware she helped a lot more people.

“She was very inspirational and pushed me to start my own business because she believed in me so much.”

A file in relation to her death has been passed to Rochdale Coroner’s Court, a spokesperson confirmed.

The cause of the explosion and subsequent collapse is still being investigated by police and Greater Manchester Fire Service.

Close friend, Amanda Webber, wrote on Facebook : “A beautiful soul inside and out.

“It was a pleasure to have known you and to have worked for you, may you Rest in eternal peace and your smile shine down on us all.

“You shall be sadly missed by all who knew you.R.I.P Hazel xx.”

Five other people were injured in the blast, including a woman and a child, who were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Kerry Crompton, who lived nearby, said she had heard Hazel had been speaking to friends via an internet call at the time of the blast.

Andrea Procter wrote: “Hazel you were such an inspiration and fantastic friend.

“Devastating news. So sad.”

Paul Kent wrote: “It was always ‘Paul,you better have brought me something nice’….RIP Hazel, lovely lady!”

Nick Wood said: “RIP Hazel, a lovely lady and valued customer of mine.”

Several properties were evacuated as a precaution, with most residents returning by Thursday lunchtime.

A huge cordon was put in place while a mass clean-up of the rubble began.

Police say the cordon could be in place for several days.