RESIDENTS have been unable to return home after an 'explosion' at a block of flats in Blackbird Leys.

Footage shows flames tearing through the window of one flat which had reportedly been empty for a number of months.

The block of flats, in Joiner's Court off Pegasus Road, was completely evacuated after the fire took hold about 3.30pm yesterday.

VIDEO: Flats evacuated as fire takes hold

Nearby residents reported hearing an 'explosion' before seeing plumes of smoke launched into the air.

Edward Drake, who was about half a mile away at the time, said: "I was working on Oxford Road, Garsington when I heard two loud bangs like a shotgun going off.

"Then a plume of smoke, shortly after this sirens."

The Oxford Times:

Another passerby Akanksha Kaith said: "You could see the smoke before the fire and it seemed to all come from one window. I was on the bus and we all rushed to the window, worried and scared."

Buses were diverted away from the area as Pegasus Road was closed at the junction with Field Avenue, close to Pegasus Primary School and Pegasus Park, through to Cuddesdon Way.

About four fire engines were sent to the scene, along with police and incident response units from South Central Ambulance Service.

One resident of a neighbouring flat Michelle Mazora said: "It happened on the first floor in the flat next to me. I was inside at the time and heard a loud bang, so opened the door to look outside and smoke just filled the air.

"I don't know what happened but the flat it was in, nobody lives there, it has been empty for about three months."

The Oxford Times:

The resident said it happened about 3.30pm and all the residents in that block of flats have been evacuated and had to stay in a Travelodge overnight. They are yet to be allowed back to their homes until the fire service has assessed the damage.

Ms Mazora added: "The whole side and two floors [on that side] have been completely destroyed.

"One lady had quite a few cats and they all died, it was really bad."

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South Central Ambulance Service confirmed nobody was in the affected flat at the time of the fire, and nobody was injured.

Thames Valley Police are yet to provide details on the fire but are leading the investigation.