Bedford fire: One dies and three more rushed to hospital following gas explosion at block of flats

Watch a report by Elodie Harper

At least one person has died and three others were taken to hospital after a gas explosion described as an "inferno" in a block of flats, Bedfordshire Police said.

The explosion ripped through the three-storey building in Redwood Grove, Bedford on Monday morning (4 July).

Two casualties were taken to hospital with serious injuries and a firefighter was also admitted with smoke inhalation after the gas explosion.

Police fear more deaths could be discovered in the coming days as emergency services search the scene.

Bedfordshire Police Chief Superintendent John Murphy said: "Very sadly we know that at least one person has passed away in the explosion today.

"There is a possibility that there will be more fatalities discovered in the coming days as we continue to search through the scene and a number of people, as my colleague from the fire services has identified, were injured as well today."

The Magpas Air Ambulance lands at the scene Credit: Baljeet Mummon

The explosion happened at the block of 20 flats this morning. Witnesses reported seeing a resident jump from a second-storey window to escape the flames.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident after fire gutted the roof of the building.

East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) said there had been three hospital admissions, one of whom was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with leg injuries.

The other two, including a firefighter, were taken to Bedford South Wing Hospital with smoke inhalation.

The firefighter has since returned home, emergency services said.

A witness who spoke to ITV News Anglia described feeling the ground shake beneath her.

She said: "I was just out of my shower and the floor shaked (sic) and I thought it was something from the neighbour's house that had fallen on the floor, something like that.

"The place was proper, proper on fire. The smoke was very dark and there were people running around. Some people jumped and there was a guy that was projected out of the flat."

Retired photographer John O'Reilly, who lives nearby, said the blast knocked him off his feet and there were bricks strewn across the road.

The 76-year-old said: "There was a loud explosion which knocked me off my feet. I got dressed and walked out into the road and walked out into the road to find the adjacent block on fire.

Firecrews tackle the blaze at the flats in Redwood Grove Credit: Baljeet Mummon

"There were bricks in the road so it was obviously a very large explosion to do that sort of damage."

Adam Fisher said he heard a "huge explosion" before witnessing "an inferno". The 37-year-old sales worker, whose office is nearby, said:

"A huge explosion heard - everyone went to our work car park to see what was happening. Our building is adjacent to the apartment complex - immediately an inferno (was) visible, huge smoke cloud billowing, people screaming and people frantically calling for emergency services."

The building at Redwood Grove has been gutted by fire Credit: ITV News Anglia

Another said: "I heard the explosion from my house round the corner. I walked to town and saw the flames and also witnessed someone jump from the second-floor window whilst flames were blaring out."

Flames engulfed the whole building and caused a large portion of the roof to collapse.

All three emergency services were at the scene into Monday evening.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the fire on Redwood Grove was caused by a gas explosion.

In a statement earlier, the service said: "Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are currently in attendance at a major gas explosion on Redwood Grove, Bedford.

"There are currently 6 appliances, 2 water carriers, an incident command unit at the scene."

Footage shared on social media showed plumes of flame erupting from a block of flats as fire engines showered the blaze with water.

An Emergency Assistance Centre was set up at The John Bunyan Centre in Bedford, for people who have been evacuated and need support.

An adjacent block of flats was also evacuated as a result of the fire, along with the nearby Shackleton Primary School.

The school's headteacher Andy George said in a statement: "Following the fire in the Redwood Grove area of Bedford earlier today, pupils at Shackleton Primary have been sent home due to the school's proximity to the incident.

"All children are safe and the school is working with the emergency services. The school expects to re-open tomorrow."

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