Hopes Bedford explosion investigation may progress quicker
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Emergency services investigating an explosion in Bedford believe they may be able to get access to the main affected block of flats quicker than expected following discussions with experts.
Police have held positive discussions with structural engineers and may be able to begin the process of detailed search more quickly, subject to some structural support and safety measures being implemented in the next few days.
Those responding to the incident in Redwood Grove are hopeful that the majority of residents in an adjacent block of flats will be able to return to their homes by the end of this week.
Once residents have been able to safely return, it is hoped there will be an opportunity to facilitate access to vehicles which remain within the cordoned area.
Following discussions with experts, it is also hoped that occupants of some of the directly impacted flats will be able to briefly return and collect a small number of important or cherished items.
Police expect this to be in the weeks ahead, given the need to make the building structurally safe and then complete detailed searches.
Chief Superintendent John Murphy, leading the Bedfordshire Police response to the incident, said: “We are continuing to do our work in Redwood Grove as quickly and as safely as we can.
“We know that this will be a protracted investigation given the complexity of the site, but we have had some positive news from structural experts today that means we will be able to make progress more quickly than we initially thought.
“Our thoughts remain with the family of the person who is believed to have died in this tragic and hugely distressing incident. We have specialist officers available to support them however we can.
“We are also working as fast as we can to get residents back into their homes. I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and patience amidst this ongoing disruption and please be assured we are doing all we can to help.”
At least one person is confirmed to have died in the explosion and fire on Monday (4 July).
Specialist officers are speaking with and supporting the next of kin of the person who is believed to have died, but have not yet been able to formally confirm their identify.
Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service has confirmed there is no mains gas supply into the building.
Their specialist fire investigators continue to work with colleagues from Bedfordshire Police to establish the cause of the fire and are following a number of lines of enquiry.
Specialist police search teams have been carrying out searches at the edge of the cordon today, with the site having been formally handed to police by the fire service this afternoon.
Police have set up an information centre for people to get in touch, report any concerns or find out about family members.