Reading fire: Searchers warn families of missing two that they are unlikely to be found by Christmas

151221-reading flat fire aerial shot
An aerial view of the aftermath of the fatal fire.

The families of two people missing following a deadly Reading fire have been warned by investigators they are unlikely to be found before Christmas.

Emergency services searching for the pair after a major fire at a block of flats in Reading say work to fully search the building could take 'several weeks'.

Structural scaffolding is being put up around the building at Rowe Court, as there is significant structural damage which creates a high risk of walls collapsing.

Workers could be seen erecting scaffolding around the building on Thursday, December 23. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Once the building has been made safe, emergency services will work to confirm whether those who have been reported missing are in the building.

The blaze broke out in the early hours of December, 15, killing one person.

Hakeem Kigundu, 31, appeared at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday (December 21), charged with murder and arson in connection with the fire.

Thames Valley Police, Reading Borough Council and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service continue to work together to investigate the fire, make the building safe and support those affected and the wider community.

The blaze caused significant damage to the structure of the building Credit: ITV News Meridian

Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council said: "The local community, indeed Reading as a whole, remains in shock at this horrific fire, which somehow feels even more distressing coming as it did just a few days before Christmas.

"This is a corner of town just off the busy Oxford Road and is a place where the sense of community is strong.

"I have little doubt that will shine through, as it already is, in the difficult days, weeks and months to come.

Emergency services have been at the scene since the blaze on December 15

"Everybody’s thoughts in Reading remain with those who have been affected the most, and with their families.

"Reading has again responded with warmth and generosity in the face of adversity, with offers of help from within the community affected and across the town.

"I thank everybody for their generosity and their support for our emergency service colleagues.

"I also remind everyone that they can make donations to those affected here.

"The Council will ensure the donations reach the displaced residents at the appropriate time."

Windows were smashed as a result of the fire Credit: ITV News Meridian

Superintendent Steve Raffield from Thames Valley Police said: "This has been an extremely distressing time for so many people, and our thoughts remain firmly with all those affected by this horrific incident, especially the families, friends and loved ones of those reported missing.

"Our officers will be in the area while our investigation continues, with neighbourhood teams on patrol and available to answer any questions or concerns wherever they can."

The family of those reported missing continue to be supported by specialist officers from Thames Valley Police.

  • Reading Borough Council has set up a contact centre helpline on 0118 937 3787, to provide support to the local community.