Two men were left screaming in agony after an explosion ripped through their inner-city flat in Tauranga tonight.

The blast, caused by a faulty pressure cooker, rocked the Cliff Rd block of flats just before 7pm, blowing out a ranchslider wall at the other end of the room and setting fire to the flat's curtains.

A man who was sitting in the lounge area of the small flat escaped injury.
Mike Hendrie, who lives in an adjoining flat, told the Bay of Plenty Times he and some friends were having a drink in his lounge when they heard the explosion.

"I looked outside and there was a guy rolling around on the ground. I went to see if he was alright and came down the saw the ranchslider blown out and on fire,'' Mr Hendrie said.

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Friend Ben Court-Patience said he thought the entire flat complex was going to burn down.

"At first I though a car had blown up on the highway so I went outside and there was this Maori dude lying on the ground. I thought he'd been thrown out of a window or something.''

Hannah Surgeoner, who was with Mr Hendrie and Mr Court-Patience, said she initially thought the injured men were fighting.

"One guy was jumping around and the other guy was on the ground,'' she said.

Gagan Mann was in shock at seeing his flatmate and a workmate injured in the blast.

Mr Mann rushed over to the kitchen after the blast and used a pot filled with water to extinguish the flames.

He then joined his friends outside and made sure emergency services were called.
"They were screaming, you know,'' he said.

"I just don't know. I couldn't think anything. There was fire over here,'' he said, gesturing to the rocked stove.

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Outside, shards of broken glass blanketed the back lawn while the ruptured frame of the ranchslider stood askew.

Tauranga fire service senior station officer Mark Keller said the third man in the flat was lucky not to have been injured.

"It was a significant explosion,'' Mr Keller said.

"The third occupant was in the lounge. It went past him.

"He's lucky he wasn't in the path of the explosion.

"It took out a window at the other end of the place.''

Mr Keller said the cause of the blast appeared to have been a failure of a pressure cooker's relief valve.

"The pressure had been building up to a point where the lid couldn't hold on any more,'' he said.

"There was food and water in the pot. There was a flash of flame which indicates there was oil in there. There were some flames. It set fire to the curtains.''

Mr Keller said that as well as steam burns, the injured men likely suffered fire burns also.
Mr Keller credited the third man for saving the flat from any further fire damage.