Gas blast: Second man held

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A SECOND suspect has been arrested over a gas explosion at a house which saw dozens of residents evacuated.

An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and arson with intent to endanger life in connection with the incident in Sheriff Street, Hartlepool, last Friday lunchtime.

He has been bailed pending further police inquiries.

Meanwhile, 48-year-old Michael Casey, who is also charged with arson as to recklessly endanger life and burglary with intent, has appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

Casey, described as being of no fixed abode, did not enter any pleas during the brief hearing which set out the timetable for the legal proceedings.

He will reappear again in court on Friday, October 7, when he is expected to enter pleas.

Casey was remanded in custody.

He is accused of trying to steal copper piping from the empty house which has been described as a “drugs den.”

It is alleged a boiler in the kitchen had been tampered with and pipework leading to the gas meter was cut.

It is believed to have led to a fire in the roof and the subsequent explosion.

Passer-by Sandra Stamp, 44, needed medical treatment after being showered with glass when the windows of the house were blown out.