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Reading fire: Man arrested on suspicion of murder and arson as 'number of people unaccounted for'

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 15/12/2021 Gareth Davies
Reading fire: Man arrested on suspicion of murder and arson as 'number of people unaccounted for' - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph © Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph Reading fire: Man arrested on suspicion of murder and arson as 'number of people unaccounted for' - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and arson following a fatal fire in Reading that has left a number of people unaccounted for.

Thames Valley Police said one person died in the large fire at a property in Grovelands Road. 

A 31-year-old man has been arrested and remains in custody.

Residents said they heard "a loud explosion" and people were forced to jump out of windows to escape the flames.

The force said the incident is not being treated as terror-related and urged people to avoid the area, with road closures in place.

In a statement on Twitter, Thames Valley Police said: "Local agencies are working together at the scene of a large fire at a property in Grovelands Road, Reading.

"Our officers, as well as the fire and ambulance services, are at the site. Sadly, one person is believed to have died, and a number of others are unaccounted for.

"Officers have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of arson and murder and he is in custody at this time."

The statement added: "If you have any concerns, for loved ones, please try and contact them in the first instance. A dedicated number is being set up for this, and details will follow very shortly."


Video: Man arrested after one dead and others ‘unaccounted for’ in Reading fire (PA Media)

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Neighbour's 'miracle escape'

A resident said he made a "miracle" escape after jumping out of a third-floor window of the block of flats where the fire broke out.

The damaged roof of the property which was engulfed by flames - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph © Provided by The Telegraph The damaged roof of the property which was engulfed by flames - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph Emergency services continue to work at the scene of the fire in Grovelands Road, Reading - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph © Provided by The Telegraph Emergency services continue to work at the scene of the fire in Grovelands Road, Reading - Vagner Vidal for The Telegraph

The man, who walked barefoot with a bandage on one of his feet, told reporters: "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 12ft.

"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."

A nearby resident was woken up by smoke billowing into the sky in the early hours of this morning.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said "I was asleep this morning and we could smell and see black smoke pouring in the air.

"There's been a bit of commotion, I've never seen so many police and fire engines in my life.

"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.

"I'm not sure who lives there."

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