Scores of firefighters dashed to a building on Granby Street, near Columbia Street Flower Market in Tower Hamlets, following reports of a fire and an explosion, at just before 6pm yesterday (Thursday, August 4).
Fifteen fire engines and around 100 firefighters tackled the flames and rescued seven people from their homes, before spending more than eight hours extinguishing the blaze.
Emergency services are still at the scene today (Friday, August 5), monitoring an ongoing gas leak.
One man was rushed to hospital via ambulance, while three others were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and later admitted.
A flat on the second floor was significantly damaged by the fire and explosion, while there was also heat and smoke damage to the third floor flat above.
External damage was caused to the building by the explosion and the windows and fascia of a row of maisonettes opposite the affected block were also damaged.
Station commander Paul Green, who was at the scene, said: “Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued one man from a second floor flat.
He added: “Another three people were led to safety by crews using fire escape hoods and a further person was assisted from the building.
“They were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and three were taken to hospital.
“Firefighters carried out a systematic search of the block and a further two people were assisted from the building.”
And he continued: “Following the fire and explosion, crews remained on scene due to an on-going gas leak in the building.
“A 25-metre cordon was in place as a precaution.
"Part of Bethnal Green Road was shut and motorists were advised to avoid the area where possible.”
A London Fire Brigade (LFB) spokesperson said: “The brigade’s 999 control officers took 42 calls to the incident. The brigade was called at 5.53pm and the incident was over for firefighters by 2.17am.
“Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Shadwell, Dockhead, Islington and surrounding fire stations were at the scene.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
An ambulance service spokesperson said: “We were called at 5.54pm yesterday to reports of an incident at Bentworth Court, E2.
“We sent a number of resources to the scene including three ambulance crews, a tactical response unit and members of our hazardous area response team. We also dispatched London’s air ambulance.
“We assisted a number of people at the scene and took three patients to a major trauma centre.”