Two people have been taken to hospital including one with serious injuries after a gas explosion at a block of flats in Bedford.
Unverified footage shared on social media showed flames erupting from what users described as a block of flats as firefighters tackled the blaze.
Bedfordshire police said the explosion triggered a “significant fire” at a three-storey block of 20 flats in Redwood Grove, which engulfed the whole building and caused a large portion of the roof to collapse.
“There are currently two people who have been taken to hospital, one with serious injuries who has been taken to Addenbrooke’s [hospital in Cambridge],” the force said.
“Police, fire and the ambulance service all remain in attendance.
“We know people are keen to help, but would ask people to avoid the area and keep any doors and windows closed.”
The police force said an emergency assistance centre had been set up by Bedford council at the nearby John Bunyan centre for people who had been evacuated.
It added: “An adjacent block of flats has also been evacuated and we are working as quickly as we can to get people back into their homes as quickly as possible.”
Bedfordshire fire and rescue service said the fire was caused by a major gas explosion. It said in a statement: “There are currently six appliances, two water carriers [and] an incident command unit at the scene. Please avoid the area and keep windows and doors closed.”
The incident comes just over a week after a gas explosion in Kingstanding, Birmingham, which killed a 79-year-old woman.
One witness claimed they saw a person jump from a second-floor window to escape the burning building. “I heard the explosion from my house round the corner,” the eyewitness, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA Media news agency.
“I walked to town and saw the flames and also witnessed someone jump from the second-floor window whilst flames were blaring out.”
Adam Fisher, 37-year-old sales worker whose office is nearby, said: “A huge explosion heard – everyone went to our work car park to see what was happening.
“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.”
On 26 June a gas explosion destroyed a house and seriously damaged three others in Kingstanding.
Doreen Rees-Bibb was killed in the explosion while her partner, who was pulled alive from the rubble by neighbours, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.