Suspected arsonist arrested after one dies in Reading flat blaze horror

Emergency services at scene of fire on Grovelands Road, Reading

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One person is known to have died and several others are missing feared dead following a “massive explosion”. Police arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder and arson. Firefighters were searching the building yesterday ‑ but there was little hope of finding more survivors.

One man claimed he had a “miracle escape” when he leapt from his bedroom window on the third floor of the block named Rowe Court in Reading, Berkshire.

Thames Valley Police confirmed one person died in the blaze while a number of others still remain “unaccounted for”.

Superintendent Steve Raffield said: “We have been working alongside our partner agencies to do everything we can to find signs of life.

“Sadly it is highly unlikely we will find any further survivors in the building.”

Three people were being treated in hospital while another eight were attended to by ambulance crews at the scene.

The blaze erupted just before 3am yesterday. Tom Price, 40, who lives in a nearby building, 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.”

One witness called Michael, who did not wish to give his full name, said: “The flames were coming from the side of the building and engulfed all the other flats and the roof.”

Emergency services remained at the scene yesterday with police, ambulance crews and firefighters working at the badly damaged building.

Another man ‑ who lives near the scene of the incident but did not want to be named ‑ said: “The building has been really badly damaged.

“Parts of the roof have been torn off, windows are smashed and smoke has been coming out of it for hours.”

Thames Valley Police 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.”

The search operation was continuing last night.

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