Homeowner charged over fatal gas explosion

The owner of a Northland home where a gas explosion resulted in the death of a young mother has been charged and will appear in court next week.

Energy Safety, which is part of WorkSafe NZ, confirmed yesterday three charges had been laid against the owner of the Ruakaka property.

Lesley Anita Wehi-Jack, 19, died in Middlemore Hospital about 7.20pm on February 12, surrounded by family.

Less than 24 hours earlier, she had returned to her Ruakaka home, and it was there that the explosion occurred.

She had moved into the two-bedroom Tamure Place house on Waitangi Day.

Miss Jack managed to get outside the house and was immediately helped by neighbours who had rung emergency services and doused her with a garden hose.

At the time, specialist fire investigator Craig Bain said the explosion resulted from a faulty gas appliance in the kitchen area and called in an energy-safety inspector from Wellington and a gas-fire investigation specialist from Auckland to help examine the scene.

The homeowner will appear in Whangarei District Court next Monday on charges of undertaking an unauthorised gas fitting and failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that gas appliances are safe.

- By Kristin Edge of the Northern Advocate

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