Watch: At least one killed after gas explosion causes 'inferno' at block of flats
A fatal gas explosion at a block of flats in Bedfordshire may have been caused by a camping stove, fire chiefs say.
Officials have not ruled out the possibility that the huge fire was started by someone using a camping stove to save money during the cost of living crisis.
Two people were taken to hospital with serious injuries and a firefighter was also admitted with smoke inhalation after the gas explosion caused what was described as an “inferno”, destroying much of the building, where appliances were powered by electricity not gas.
Chris Bigland, deputy chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, told The Sun: “Gas wasn’t linked to the building. There may have been gas bottles used for heating or cooking.
“It could have been a camping stove with the fuel crisis and rest of it. We can’t rule it out - we just don’t know.”
Police said the “working assumption” about what caused the fire was gas-related but that an investigation had been launched to formally establish the cause.
On Monday afternoon, Bedfordshire Police chief superintendent John Murphy said it is possible more fatalities will be discovered in the coming days as emergency services work through the wreckage, with some people still unaccounted for.
“Very sadly we know that at least one person has passed away in the explosion today,” he said.
“There is a possibility that there will be more fatalities discovered in the coming days as we continue to search through the scene."
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service described the blaze as a “major incident”, while a local resident said they saw one person leap from a second-floor window to escape the burning building, a three-storey block of 20 flats, which caused the building’s roof to collapse.
Adam Fisher, a 37-year-old sales worker whose office is nearby, said he heard a “huge explosion” before witnessing “an inferno” at the site and people screaming.
“A huge explosion heard – everyone went to our work car park to see what was happening,” he said.
“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.”
Another Bedford resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said they saw a person jumping from a second-floor window to escape the burning building.
“I heard the explosion from my house round the corner,” she said. “I walked to town and saw the flames and also witnessed someone jump from the second-floor window while flames were blaring out.”
Six fire engines attended the scene with two aerial platforms, an incident command support unit, operation support and a drone.
Watch: Firefighters tackle 'inferno' after gas explosion at Bedford flats