Redwood Grove flat explosion was a deliberate act of arson, police investigation finds

September 2, 2022 3:37 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Bedfordshire PoliceDetectives investigating the fatal explosion at the Redwood Grove flats in Bedford now believe the person who died in the blaze deliberately started the fire.

Reena James, 42, died in the incident on the morning of 4 July which resulted in a number of residents having to be evacuated after their flats were badly damaged.

Over the past two months a team of detectives has been carrying out detailed examination of the scene, alongside Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service investigators and several leading experts from around the country. Residents who remain displaced from their homes were updated on the latest developments at a special community meeting held last night (Thursday).

Chief Superintendent John Murphy from Bedfordshire Police said "We have been determined to find the cause of the explosion. Whilst there remains some laboratory testing to be completed, the very clear indication from everything we have discovered is that it was a deliberate criminal act of arson, targeted at a specific flat. Our investigation has found that entry was likely to have been forced into that flat, after which several areas were doused in a flammable liquid. The vapour from this accelerant became so great that, when it was ignited, it caused an explosion followed by the fire which took hold of the building. Forensic evidence, coupled with other enquiries, leads us to believe that Reena James, who was a resident elsewhere in the block, was solely responsible. We are therefore not looking for anyone else in connection with this crime. We remain incredibly grateful for the support and patience of residents whilst the investigation has been carried out. We do not underestimate the impact it has had on them, and we are providing them all with support as victims of crime. We are also continuing to support to the family of Ms James."

Once the investigation has been completed, a file will be passed to the coroner for a full inquest to be held to establish how Reena James died.