RESIDENTS were forced to flee their homes 'with nothing but the clothes on their backs' after an 'explosion' saw flames tear through a block of flats in Blackbird Leys.

Footage shows flames bursting through a window and smoke pouring from the roof as one flat can be seen completely engulfed by the fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters scrambled to evacuate all residents from the Catalyst Housing-owned Joiner's Court flats off Pegasus Road when it happened about 3.30pm.

VIDEO: Flats evacuated as fire takes hold

Residents 'ran for the lives' leaving possessions behind and many were put up in a hotel as nobody was allowed back in their homes yesterday.

Now the community has rallied behind those affected and set up a crowdfunding page to help them get back on their feet.

The Oxford Times:

An online crowdfunding page was set up by Charlotte Marshall, whose friend was one of the residents forced to flee the fire.

She said: "One of our best friends called us and said 'my flat is on fire' so we rushed to Blackbird Leys, but could get down the main road, so I ran on foot and found my friend out in the street.

"He lived above the flat which was on fire, so there is very little chance there will be anything left. It has probably fallen straight through to the flat below and burned."

Four fire engines with an aerial ladder platform rushed to the scene and Pegasus Road was closed from Field Avenue to Cuddesdon Way.

READ AGAIN: 'Explosion' at Pegasus Road flats in Blackbird Leys

The Oxford Times:

Ms Marshall said that, while comforting her friend, all the residents were told to go to nearby Leys Pools and Leisure Centre to keep warm and for the authorities to do a headcount.

She said staff from housing association Catalyst were on hand to help with temporary accommodation and the Red Cross also joined to hand out water and essentials.

She added: "There was a lady there with two dogs, one person had just come back from holiday, people’s pets were unaccounted for, the dogs were just sitting there and crying.

"One resident was just sat there shaking in his chair until the Red Cross came and gave him a jacket from their stocks: at that moment in time people just sprint for their lives and leave everything behind.

"My friend literally came out with just the clothes on his back and a phone in his hand, he had no wallet or anything, that is literally all he has got to his name and he doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his flat.

"He stayed with friends that night, and is just really shaken up, he feels completely lost."

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The case has echoes of the explosion at a block of flats in Gibbs Crescent, West Oxford, on Valentine's Day 2017.

An inquest last year concluded that the blast had emanated from the flat of Guido Schuette, who had stockpiled 80 litres of fuel and who was killed in the incident.

The Oxford Times:

Ms Marshall said she felt compelled to try to help the 11 households that had been forced to flee their homes and are unable to return.

The online page says money will go towards supporting families for the next few days for food and clothes, and will be divided equally between the 11 flats affected.

A Catalyst spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to help residents affected by the fire at Joiner's Court, and will continue to do so until they are able to return to their homes.

"We do not yet know the cause of the fire, however we are supporting the emergency services with their investigation."

Thames Valley Police, which initially took a lead role in the fire investigation, said everyone was safely evacuated and nobody was injured.

Spokeswoman Louisa Maher added: "A fire investigation has started to establish the cause of the fire and at this time it is not being treated as suspicious."

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will now continue to investigate.

To donate to the crowdfunding appeal go to http://bit.ly/2Kd64Vu