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Police say further fatalities possible as probe into explosion at Bedford's Redwood Grove continues

Police say further fatalities possible as probe into explosion at Bedford’s Redwood Grove continues

Investigations are continuing into the fatal explosion in Bedford which is believed to have left at least one person dead.

Work has continued at the scene in Redwood Grove today (Tuesday) as part of a process which police believe will take several weeks.

The damage caused by the explosion and subsequent fire means search teams are unlikely to be able to enter the main block of flats affected for some time.

Redwood Grove

However, an adjacent block of flats could be re-opened to residents by the end of the week.

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So far one death has been confirmed. While they have not yet been formally identified, specialist officers are supporting the next of kin of the person who is believed to have died.

Chief Superintendent John Murphy is leading the Bedfordshire Police response to the explosion, which happened shortly after 9am yesterday (Monday).

The scene at Redwood Grove yesterday

He said: “This is a hugely distressing and traumatic incident, and our thoughts remain with the friends and family of the person who has tragically lost their life.

“We still do not know the cause of the explosion. A number of lines of enquiry are taking place to help us establish that, and we are working closely with our colleagues from the fire service as part of our investigation.

“We are now entering a protracted stage of the investigation at a very complex scene where we will be conducting our enquiries as diligently and professionally as we can.

“It may take a significant amount of time before we can begin to search at the affected site, given the damage that has been caused and the risks that presents to our teams. Therefore, at this stage we cannot rule out the possibility of further fatalities being discovered.

“We know that residents of nearby properties want to get back into their homes as quickly as possible and we thank them for their continued support and patience while we continue to ensure the scene is safe.”

Firefighters have been carrying out reassurance visits today around the affected area as they continue to support.

The emergency assistance centre remains open for today at the John Bunyan Centre in Bedford for anyone who needs help or support.

From tomorrow, (Wednesday), there will be an information centre at the Harpur Suite, Bedford town centre 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Many in the town have made donations to help those who were evacuated.

Bedfordshire Police’s specialist education and diversion team also joined mental health services to deliver special sessions at a school near to the flats today.

Trevor Gradwell Smith, operational assurance manager at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service continues to undertake a complex fire investigation at Redwood Grove and remain unable to make any conclusions as to the cause of the explosion at this stage.

“It has been confirmed there are no main gas supplies to the premises.

“We are working very closely and remain on the scene with Bedfordshire Police and other partner agencies such as the Urban Search and Rescue Team who are supporting us to reinforce the structural stability of the building.

“We are maintaining a response presence on scene over the next few days. In addition we will be in the area carrying out home fire safety ‘Safe and Well’ visits and will be available to give out fire safety advice.”

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, added: “Following yesterday’s incident at Redwood Grove in Bedford I would like to offer my sincere condolences to everyone affected.

“I am shocked and saddened about the loss of life and my thoughts are with the families of those affected and in hospital, including one of our county’s firefighters.

“Bedfordshire Police are working tirelessly to establish the safety of residents and are working around the clock to continue to establish the cause.

“I want to thank our emergency services who continue to ensure the safety of members of the public.”

Police have also set up an information centre for people to get in touch, report any concerns or find out about family members.

Concerned family and friends can also call 0800 051 6085.

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