Arson is suspected after after fire broke out in the communal area of a three storey block of flats in Crowe Road, Bedford, trapping 13 people inside.
Bedfordshire Fire Control received calls from residents about smelling smoke at 23.07pm last night (Wednesday). They then received further, multiple calls from residents about smoke coming into their flats. When it was clear that the communal area was affected fire control staff told residents to stay in their flats as fire engines were on their way.
When the first fire engine, from Bedford Community Fire Station arrived, seven minutes later they found a fire in the ground floor communal area of the block of flats. Wearing breathing apparatus they fought the fire using a fire hose and quickly extinguished it. They then used positive pressure ventilation to clear smoke from the building. Three fire appliances attended, two from Bedford and one from Kempston.
Twelve were treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation before returning to their homes. Another woman was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.
The incident was closed at midnight and a fire investigation into the cause of the fire, thought to be deliberate, is under way.
Chris Ball, Borough Commander North, said: “Our firefighters did a fantastic job. Once fire control knew the fire was not in a flat but the communal area they told residents to stay safe behind their front doors, which as fire doors would have helped protect them and contained the fire. Once they arrived our Firefighters assessed the situation and quickly put out the fire, which could have caused a much worse incident than it did, and so prevented there being more serious casualties. I’d like to thank them for their quick turn out and for putting the fire out so quickly.”