A Port Erin man whose house was completely destroyed in a gas explosion five and a half years ago wants Manx Gas to do the right thing and give him satisfactory compensation.
Jim Horan said he is a very patient man, but after enduring so much and waiting for so long, ‘I lost my rag’ he said and he went public about Manx Gas’s inaction.
The explosion happened in January 2008 when gas from a mains pipe in the road followed a water pipe and seeped into the lower floor of Mr Horan’s Maine Road house. This was later verified by forensic investigators hired by his insurance company. His property did not have gas, but was heated by oil.
‘The main in the street was cracked, it ran along and filled up the bottom level of the house, when the oil central heating went on, it ignited the gas,’ he said. ‘I was blown across the house and buried in rubble. My two sons and a friend of theirs were there, there were four of us in the house. I was blown through a brick wall into my son’s room. The roof came down, my youngest son was in the loft, he was blown the length of that. My eldest son got me out, I walked out over the burning roof timbers. The first thing I was aware of was being wrapped in a quilt, I was taken to a friend’s house and I passed out until the ambulance came. Because I did not see it I was not affected [emotionally] afterwards.
‘I was the only one with major injuries, my spleen was removed, my right leg cut to the bone. I had scars from the burns on my lower back and leg. I had broken three ribs. I am partially deaf in one ear.’
He added there was further trauma through experiencing such immediate loss. ‘We lost everything, literally. I did not have any credit cards, the church in the island and the people of Port Erin raised money to keep us going. People brought me clothes in hospital. I was in intensive care for two days and hospital for 10 days. I stayed with a friend for a month then moved into a flat in Port St Mary while the house was being rebuilt.’
He said there was no problem in claiming the house insurance; the issue has been in relation to legal insurance and receiving compensation from Manx Gas.
‘The case went to England. I had to go and had my injuries verified by a consultant in England. Because it is the Isle of Man and a different legal system, it’s got to be registered back in the Isle of Man because it took more than three years, I had to go through it all again. I have been to and fro for years. This happened six years ago in January.
‘I am very patient but I lost my rag.’
He said there is a physical legacy of the explosion, ‘I have pain every day from it, because I have no spleen, my immune system is not reliable, I am on permanent penicillin. Because of my knee I cannot go up hill, I look for flat places to walk.’
There is also great emotional strain and the cost involved in losing everything, he added. ‘My wife died in 1986, we lost her jewellery and photographs, my youngest son never knew his mother, he was one at the time [of her death]. There were paintings done by my father. These cannot be replaced.’
He added: ‘Manx Gas know I was there, it was their product and gas that blew the house up, they cannot do the right thing. I need closure, I need peace to forget about it.’
A spokesperson for Manx Gas said: ‘It is inappropriate for Manx Gas to comment while proceedings are before the Isle of Man courts.’