Huge plume of smoke as fire engulfs tower block

flames are seen on the top of a building
The fire is burning on top of a town centre building [Al Cena]

Firefighters tackled a fire in a Surrey town centre where a large plume of smoke was seen.

The owner of the building said the fire, at the top of a 14-storey block, resulted from welding works being carried out on the roof.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said eight fire engines had been on the scene of the fire in Staines town centre since 12:35 BST.

The fire broke out near the Tothill multi-storey car park, in Elmsleigh Road, on a building that is currently under construction and not occupied.

Residents are being asked to avoid the area and keep windows closed.

Surrey Police confirmed Thames Street was closed between South Street and Church Street and that the force was on the scene supporting the fire service.

The fire service also said closures were in place on Riverside Gardens, Clarence Street and Staines bridge.

A spokesman said the fire was now under control but firefighters expected to be on site for "a while longer".

They said everyone was accounted for, while paramedics assessed four patients for smoke inhalation. One was taken to hospital for further treatment, a South East Coast Ambulance spokesperson said.

They added that its hazardous area response team is at the scene.

SFRS group commander Aaron Spencer said it was too soon to tell if the recent hot weather had played a part in starting the fire.

Fire crews from London and Berkshire have been brought in to assist with the operation.

The building is owned by Fairview New Homes.

A spokesperson said the fire brigade was immediately notified and the whole construction site evacuated.

They added: "We would like to thank the fire brigade for their swift and effective action as well as apologise to the residents and businesses of Staines for any concern or inconvenience caused."

Spelthorne Borough Council said residents using the nearby Staines Community Centre had been safely evacuated.

There were reports from near the scene that a loud bang was heard in the area.

Laura Purkess, who lives nearby, described hearing a bang from inside her house.

She said: "It was like a 'boom' noise loud enough for me and all my neighbours to run out onto the street, and the roof was very much on fire already.

"It started on one side and then spread across the entire roof. There were then a few more crashing sounds."

A fire service spokesperson said there was no mention of a cause at this stage.

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