Reading: Two missing after suspected arson attack as no more survivors expected

One person has died in the suspected arson attack, over which a man, 31, has been arrested

Lamiat Sabin
Thursday 16 December 2021 00:03
<p>Damage to the property in Reading </p>

Damage to the property in Reading

Police investigating a fatal fire at a block of flats in Reading have confirmed that two people are missing and they expect to find no more survivors.

One person has died and officers fear that another two may have also lost their lives in the suspected arson attack.

The fire broke out in the four-storey building on Rowe Court, off Grovelands Road shortly before 3am on Wednesday.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) said after an extensive search it does not appear that there will be any more survivors.

The force said: “Following an extensive search, during which all rescue opportunities were exhausted, we can sadly confirm that we do not expect there to be any more survivors.

“As confirmed earlier, we know that one person has tragically died. Two people have since been confirmed missing.”

A 31-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder and arson and remains in custody.

Four people were treated in hospital while another seven were treated at the scene by paramedics.

Those affected by the fire in Reading are to be provided “temporary respite accommodation”, the local council has said.

Witnesses heard an explosion and some residents were forced to jump from the building to try to escape the flames.

Others described a woman jumping or falling from an upper floor.

A man who lived on the third floor of the building has told of his “miracle” escape after jumping out of a window.

The man, who walked barefoot with one foot bandaged, 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.”

Emergency services will be at the scene overnight and work will begin on Thursday to assess the structural damage to the building.

Speaking at a press conference, TVP Supt Steve Raffield said the block of flats was “unstable”.

Roads surrounding the building have been shut and people have been urged to avoid the area.

Police said the incident is not being treated as terror-related.

TVP advised anyone who is concerned about a loved one to make a report online by clicking here – or by calling 0800 051 6079 or 020 7126 7641 from outside the UK.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in