Resident describes explosion and aftermath of fire at Bedford flats

·4 min read

A care manager who escaped with his life after an explosion at a block of flats, which killed at least one person, said he counts himself “one of the lucky ones”.

Adrian Mazurkiewicz, 27, said he had just sat at his computer to start work on Monday when there was a “huge, huge explosion” at the three-storey building in Redwood Grove, Bedford.

“I heard that explosion then I saw debris falling from the sky through my kitchen window,” he said.

“I just shouted to my partner ‘just get out of the flat as soon as possible’.”

He said that on his way down from the flat, on the top floor, he was “just banging on people’s doors, shouting to get out”.

Bedfordshire Police said one person was confirmed to have died in the fire, and a further three people were taken to hospital, including one who was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with serious leg injuries.

The other two, including a firefighter, were taken to Bedford Hospital South Wing with smoke inhalation.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing, and police said “a number of others” remain unaccounted for.

Mr Mazurkiewicz said there was a “lot of smoke already just a couple of seconds after the explosion” and that in aerial photos you can see into his flat’s lounge and kitchen.

“The whole roof has collapsed, has burnt down,” he said.

“It hasn’t been damaged in the initial explosion but everything has basically burnt down at this point.”

He said that he and his partner had little more than the clothes they were wearing and stayed in a hotel on Monday night, but were among the “lucky ones”.

“Seeing the terror of this event, coming out of that building and seeing people jumping out of the windows, seeing people bleeding on the floor, just laying on the ground really struggling, I count myself one of the lucky ones,” he said.

He said he was overwhelmed by donations to a JustGiving page set up by a work colleague to support him and his partner.

Firefighters at scene of Bedford fire
Firefighters at the scene of fire in Redwood Grove, Bedford (Doug Peters/PA)

Scientific researcher Karina Caetano, 24, was on her phone on the sofa when she heard a “very big explosion” and thought someone had “dropped a piano”.

Her husband Adelson, 30, was at his job in construction and logistics at the time.

Mrs Caetano said she saw bricks on the grass outside her ground floor flat, a lot of smoke, then looked up and saw a “massive hole in the side of the building”.

Ms Caetano said she banged on her neighbour’s door so hard that it opened, managed to rescue her neighbour’s dog but couldn’t get further into the flat after the blast, adding: “I yelled for her and didn’t get any response.”

She said her neighbour’s car is still there and she works from home.

“We’re extremely worried for her,” she said.

“The last time she was online on WhatsApp was 9.06am and this happened around 9.15am.

“We’ve called and text – nothing.”

She said she was outside for two hours “watching our lives burn”.

She said she did not care about items from inside her flat, adding: “What right now is killing me inside is not having any news on my neighbour.”

Ms Caetano said they have a good support network, and her sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the things they lost.

Administrator Emily Foster, 41, lives in the block with her two daughters aged six and nine, her brother-in-law Daniel Freeman said.

Mr Freeman, 39, of Poole in Dorset, said that Ms Foster was at work and her daughters were at school when the blast happened but that she has “lost everything”.

“She works hard, she’s a single mum, she genuinely works hard but of course she’s just lost everything,” he said.

He continued: “She’s quite shook up, she doesn’t know what to do.”

He has set up a GoFundMe page to try to help support the family.

Mr Freeman added that there was “no gas in that block” and “it was electric entirely”.

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