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One person is confirmed to have died following an explosion in Bedford.
Police and the fire service remain at the scene in Redwood Grove following the explosion at around 9.10am yesterday morning (Monday).
A three-storey block of flats was significantly damaged in the subsequent fire, which also caused a large section of the roof to collapse.
One person is confirmed to have died in the fire and a number of others remain unaccounted for, with police working alongside partner agencies to establish people’s safety.
A further three people were taken to hospital, including one who was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s with serious leg injuries.
This includes a firefighter who was treated for smoke inhalation.
Detectives have launched an investigation to identify the cause of the explosion. Given the complexity of the scene, this is expected to take some time.
An emergency assistance centre has been set up at The John Bunyan Centre in Bedford, for people who have been evacuated and need support.
People are being asked to arrange their own accommodation if possible, but council housing officers are available at the emergency assistance centre to give advice and Bedford Borough Council can arrange accommodation if people are unable to do so.
Police have also set up an information centre for people to get in touch, report any concerns or find out about family members.
Concerned family and friends can also call 0800 051 6085.
Chief Superintendent John Murphy, leading the response for Bedfordshire Police, said: “We understand that this is a very distressing and upsetting incident and we would like to thank everyone for their patience and support whilst work at the scene continues.
“Sadly, there is a possibility that more fatalities will be discovered as the detailed searches continue.
“We are working to get people back into their homes as quickly as we can, but would encourage people to head to The John Bunyan Centre if they need help and support.
“Everything we and our partners are doing is to keep people safe, establish the exact circumstances behind what caused this tragedy, as well as ensuring the dignity of those who died is preserved and respected.”
There were six fire appliances at the scene, two aerial platforms, an incident command support unit operation support and support from other counties to tackle the fire and extricate anyone from the building.
Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Chris Bigland, said: “The service was called this morning soon after 9.10am, where our fire appliances were immediately despatched to the scene, arriving to Redwood Grove in quickly as six minutes.
“There was a report of a fire and explosion to a block of flats, and our crews have worked tirelessly to extinguish the fire and make a search for causalities.
“There is an ongoing investigation to conclude the cause of the fire, and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to remain at the scene working alongside Bedfordshire Police and other partners.”
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said “We were called at 9.33am today to significant fire at a block of flats in Redwood Grove, Bedford.
“Three ambulances, the Hazardous Area Response Team, a tactical commander, three operations managers and the Magpas Air Ambulance were sent to the scene.
“One person was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment for leg injuries, while two people, one of whom was a firefighter, were conveyed to Bedford South Wing Hospital with smoke inhalation."
A spokesman from Bedford Borough Council said: “Following a fire at a block of flats on Redwood Grove this morning, an Emergency Assistance Centre has been set up at The John Bunyan Centre, for people who have been evacuated and need support.
“We are asking people, If possible, to make their own accommodation arrangements but Housing Officers are available [at the Emergency Assistance Centre] to give advice and we can arrange accommodation if people are unable to do so.”