A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and arson after one person died in a fire in Reading – as a number of people remain unaccounted for following the blaze in the early hours of this morning.
Thames Valley Police were called at 2.56am today following several reports about the fire at a block of flats in Rowe Court off Grovelands Road.
The force said in a statement: “We are working with our colleagues on a search and rescue operation and will exhaust all our efforts to find signs of life.
“We expect this phase of the operation to continue today and into the evening and perhaps beyond.”
Thames Valley Police said three people have been taken to hospital and all have non-life-threatening injuries.
Another eight people were treated by the ambulance service at the scene.
The 31-year-old man, who has been arrested, remains in custody.
A number of other people have been evacuated from the scene and are being cared for by the local authority and partners.
The force said the fire was not being treated as terror-related and urged people to avoid the area, with road closures in place.
A man who lived in the block of flats where the fire broke out has told of his “miracle” escape after jumping out of a third-floor window.
The man, who walked barefoot with a bandage on one of his feet, said: “I was involved in the incident – I live in the flat on the third floor of the building.
“I was woken up by an alarm and heard a loud explosion. I heard the people inside screaming and shouting – I think they were my neighbours.
“I opened the door of my flat and saw a big cloud of smoke – and saw that the exit was trapped.
“A firefighter then came in and told me the building was on fire and to leave it now, so I jumped out of the window and so did he – it’s about 12 feet.
“I landed OK but hurt my leg. I think the firefighter is in hospital, but I thought it was better to break my leg than die. I think it’s a miracle how it all happened.”
Another local resident said he heard a loud explosion before people began leaping from the windows of the building.
Tom Price, 40, who lives in a nearby property, said: “All I heard was a massive explosion and saw smoke billowing from the flats.
“People were leaping from their windows – I know one lady jumped from a high floor.
“There were screams and shouts and glass was being smashed.
“The flames went on for hours but the police and fire engines were here so quick.
“There are a mixture of families and single people who live there.”