Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford fire: NHS health complex severely damaged

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Media captionMore than 60 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control

A fire which ravaged part of a derelict NHS health complex is being treated as a possible arson attack.

The blaze broke out at Bedford Health Village on Kimbolton Road, Bedford, at about 18:07 GMT on Thursday.

Police believe the fire, which was tackled by dozens of firefighters at its height, was started deliberately.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said there were no reports of anyone being in the building and the fire is subject to an investigation.

The blaze did not spread to neighbouring hospital buildings and fire crews would remain at the scene to dampen down, a spokesman said.

Image copyright Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews "worked tirelessly through the night"

East London NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said patients and staff in Archer Unit and Cedar House were safe and added it was "business as usual this morning".

Esther Snelson, whose house backs on to the site, said by early Thursday night the fire had reached the roof of the building.

She said firefighters appeared to be concentrating on preventing the blaze from spreading from the derelict wing to the modern building.

"If it doesn't have to be demolished it would be amazing," she said.

Image copyright Paul Warner
Image caption The Health Village was formerly known as Bedford Hospital North Wing

Ms Snelson said the building, that was formerly a workhouse, had been empty "for at least 10 years".

Parts of Goldington and Kimbolton Roads were closed overnight but have since reopened.

Image copyright Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The cause of the fire is not yet known
Image copyright Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Fire crews said there were no reports of anyone being in the building

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