A woman who died after an explosion and fire at a three-storey block of flats is believed to have deliberately started the blaze herself, detectives have said.
Resident Reena James, who died in the incident in Redwood Grove in Bedford on July 4, is believed to have forced entry to another flat in the block and doused it with a flammable liquid before setting it on fire, Bedfordshire Police said.
The 42-year-old is thought to have been “solely responsible” for the blaze, Chief Superintendent John Murphy said on Friday, following a two-month investigation.
Residents who remain displaced from their homes were updated on the latest developments at a special community meeting held on Thursday night, police said.
Ch Supt Murphy said: “We have been determined to find the cause of the explosion.
“While there remains some laboratory testing to be completed, the very clear indication from everything we have discovered is that it was a deliberate criminal act of arson, targeted at a specific flat.
“Our investigation has found that entry was likely to have been forced into that flat, after which several areas were doused in a flammable liquid.
“The vapour from this accelerant became so great that, when it was ignited, it caused an explosion followed by the fire which took hold of the building.”
He continued: “Forensic evidence, coupled with other inquiries, leads us to believe that Reena James, who was a resident elsewhere in the block, was solely responsible.
“We are therefore not looking for anyone else in connection with this crime.
“We remain incredibly grateful for the support and patience of residents while the investigation has been carried out.
“We do not underestimate the impact it has had on them, and we are providing them all with support as victims of crime.
“We are also continuing to support to the family of Ms James.”
The force said that, once the investigation has been completed, a file will be passed to the coroner for a full inquest to be held to establish how Ms James died.
The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) said at the time that there had been three hospital admissions, one of whom was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with leg injuries.
The other two, including a firefighter, were taken to Bedford South Wing Hospital with smoke inhalation.