12 rescued from Oxfordshire flats blaze

 

Twelve people were rescued by firefighters today after a block of flats went up in flames.

Fire crews evacuated Venners Water, in Didcot, Oxfordshire, and two people were taken to hospital after the fire tore through the building's top-floor flats and roof.

Around 40 residents from 20 flats in the building were moved to safety.

Eight fire engines and 45 firefighters from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene at 5.05am after receiving reports of a serious fire at the three-storey block.

Specialist crews in breathing apparatus spent more than six hours tackling flames before the fire was put out.

An adult and a child were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and ambulance crews also treated a number of people at the scene for the effects of smoke.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire, which destroyed most of the building's upper floor and left its roof open to the sky.

Some flats have also suffered water damage caused by burst pipes.

Charlbury station manager Chris Wilson said: "We believe the fire had been burning for half an hour to an hour by the time we were called so it had been able to spread quite a bit.

"Unfortunately, the fire had already become established on the top floor and therefore our initial efforts were concentrated on rescuing those in danger on the top floors.

"We don't yet know how the fire started and firefighters are currently on the scene working to determine the cause while also salvaging residents' belongings."

Residents of Venners Water have taken refuge at relatives' homes and a nearby pub while fire officers and structural engineers assess damage to the building.

PA

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