Families speak of terror as fire rips through block of flats in Basingstoke

ITV News reporter Mike Pearse has been speaking to those affected in Basingstoke.

People living in dozens of flats in Basingstoke remain evacuated tonight following one of the biggest domestic fires in Hampshire for some years.

The local council has put emergency measures in place to provide temporary accommodation.

80 fire fighters spent several hours battling the blaze in Oakridge Road which spread along the roof of the block of  flats.

Crews at the scene of the blaze on Saturday Credit: HFRS

Those inside said they were terrified as they tried to get out.

One resident told us it was like watching a horror film: "I turned up at home and all I could see was flames coming out of the window.

"All I could think about was my children.

"I ran in and grabbed them out. It was like watching a film.

"The flames were just orange flames coming out everywhere.

"I just feel sorry for the people who have lost everything."

Local reports of the cause  being a disposable bbq have been ruled out.

Richard Boxall filmed these dramatic pictures of the fire taking hold.

Basingstoke and Dean Borough council say they immediately put in place an emergency operation.

The council leader Paul Harvey is also the ward councillor and was quickly on the scene.

"It took an awful long time to get the fire under control and to get the situation under control but they did, " he said.

"We opened up the local community centre. We made sure everyone was looked after, fed, supported and had somewhere to go.

"Everyone who needed to be rehoused got rehoused with somewhere to stay overnight.

"They had pets that needed looking after, they had children that needed looking after.

"It was important we provided every bit of support we could in the immediate crisis."

More than twenty fire appliances attended with around 80 fire fighters.

Jason Avery from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was a huge operation: "There were reports that people could be trapped in the building so our priority was to make sure everyone was accounted for.

"Our next challenge was to extinguish the fire and that was challenging in terms of how fast the fire spread and crews worked really hard to contain the fire.

"It is a significant incident for us.

"All I would ask if wherever people live they have working smoke alarms that are tested weekly so if they have a fire they can be warned and escape."

Tonight investigations continue but the early signs are that this was an accident.