Horror Bedford explosion may have been sparked by camping stove as more bodies feared

5 July 2022, 11:22 | Updated: 5 July 2022, 11:25

By Sophie Barnett

A camping stove used to save money in the cost of living crisis could be behind a horror gas explosion which tore through a block of flats in Bedford, killing one person and leaving others feared dead.

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Fire chiefs said the inferno at a block of flats in Redwood Grove on Monday could have been triggered by someone using a camping stove to save money.

One person was killed in the devastating blaze, two people were seriously injured, and a firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

Chris Bigland, deputy chief fire officer for Bedfordshire, said: “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 the rest of it. We can’t rule it out — we just don’t know.”

It comes as authorities warned there may be more bodies in the rubble after the "inferno" gutted the block of flats.

Read more: One person killed after Bedford gas explosion which saw people 'jumping from windows'

The aftermath of the blaze in Bedford.
The aftermath of the blaze in Bedford. Picture: Peter Manning

Shocking drone pictures from the blaze showed a large portion of roof had caved in, with witnesses reporting seeing people "jumping from windows".

John Murphy, chief superintendent of Bedfordshire police, said it was possible that more fatalities would be discovered in the coming days as emergency services searched through the wreckage.

Residents at the three-storey block of flats have been unable to return home since the blaze broke out, with a school nearby also sending pupils home.

An Emergency Assistance Centre has been set up at The John Bunyan Centre in Bedford, for people who have been evacuated and need support.

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The scene of the blaze in Bedford.
The scene of the blaze in Bedford. Picture: Twitter/ @Lacazetteeeee

Witnesses described hearing an explosion before seeing an "inferno" at the 20-storey block of flats - with people desperately jumping out of windows to escape the flames.

"I heard the explosion from my house round the corner," said one resident, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I walked to town and saw the flames and also witnessed someone jump from the second-floor window whilst flames were blaring out."

While retired photographer John O'Reilly, who lives in a block of flats adjacent to the block where the fire was, said the blast knocked him off his feet and there were bricks strewn across the road.

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 died is preserved and respected.”