A police officer suffered serious burns as he tried to fight his way through flames to rescue a suspected arsonist before he fell from the window of his burning flat.
The man in his 50s died after falling from the 14th floor of the block at Green Court in Luton in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Bedfordshire Police have revealed that detectives were investigating three attempted arson attacks at homes in the area in the early hours of Wednesday, and had identified an occupant of the flats as a suspect after examining CCTV.
As part of the ongoing investigation, a team of five officers were sent to a flat on the 14th floor at 4am on Thursday.Officers arrived to be confronted with a fire at the entrance to the flat.Police said that the officers tried to get into to the flat to get the man to safety, but were overcome by the fire.
One of the officers in particular suffered serious burns and remains in hospital. Four others were treated and discharged.
As the fire took further hold, the man in the flat fell from the window on to scaffolding below and died, the force said.
While formal identification is still yet to take place, police have made contact with the next of kin, and specialist officers are supporting his family.
Bedfordshire Police referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. But they have said they will not be investigating and are leaving the probe to the local force.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra said: “This is a tragic case and we are working hard to establish all of the facts of what took place.
"Our focus yesterday was on identifying the man who had died and tracing his family members before we released any further information publicly.“We have also been carefully recovering all possible evidence from the scene and assisting residents who had been displaced from their homes.“What is clear from the evidence collected so far is the bravery of the attending officer, who tried to fight through the flames to save the man inside. Our thoughts remain with both him as he recovers in hospital and the loved ones of the man who sadly died.”
Ten fire engines from the county's fire service were sent to Green Court and at around 4.30am residents were evacuated from the other 97 flats and told to leave.
They have since been allowed to return.Anyone with any information which may assist the investigation is asked to call 101 or get in touch with police through beds.police.uk/ro/report quoting Operation Cheagle.