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Gas expert says in 25 years he's never seen a house turned to 'matchsticks' like today

A gas expert says he has never seen such a serious gas explosion during his 25-year career after today's incident in Christchurch.

A gas explosion at a home in Northwood, Christchurch today left one house razed to the ground, 17 others impacted, and six people injured, some seriously.

Master Plumbers Director Martin de Gouw said that generally New Zealand's gas industry is very well regulated with good focus on training and compliance.

He said people could have confidence that the systems in place would keep them safe, but also said that mistakes do happen, and that an investigation into what happened would reveal the true cause.

Mr de Gouw said it was a reminder that gas systems need to be periodically inspected, and that if people smell gas, they should immediately take action.

"I've been in this industry 25 years and we haven't had anything like that in that period, at all, to my knowledge in Christchurch," he said.

"Those pictures from the site today were horrendous and I feel sorry for the occupants and obviously it's a hugely devastating event that they went through."

Mr de Gouw said that when he first saw the footage, "My first instinct was 'this has turned into matchsticks', you know?

"The devastation not only for the house, but the neighbouring people - and for that blast to have been heard some 10km away in Hornby - it's just massive.

"Our thoughts go out to those people in the vicinity because it will live with them for a long time."

He said that "if tragedy does happen, the industry needs to learn from it and then move on and make installations smarter and safer - but that's not to say there are unsafe installations out there.

"I suspect something's gone wrong with the incident that's occurred there, but we'll just have to wait and see what the outcome is."

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Master Plumber Martin de Gouw says he’s never seen anything like it in 25 years. Source: 1 NEWS