By Dan Santy 06/07 Updated: 09/07 10:17
POLICE have confirmed they are treating a gas explosion at a shop in Bilton as arson.
The rescue of ten people - all unharmed - who were trapped in flats above the Freemantle Road shop after it exploded and set fire to their building on Thursday (July 5), has been called a 'miracle' by one of the fire officers investigating.
Residents living above the All in One store had to be pulled from their homes by firefighters using ladders and ropes after the explosion shortly before 12.45am.
The blast blocked off the main fire exit and completely blew out two walls at the shop - causing severe damage and putting it at risk of collapse - according to a spokeswoman for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.
There were no injuries and firefighters managed to put the blaze out quickly but spent several hours on the scene making sure the area was safe.
Fire investigation officer, Jon Dixon, said: "It is a miracle really that no-one was injured in the blast.
"A full investigation into the cause of the explosion is now being carried out by our fire investigation team in partnership with the county surveyors and police scenes of crime officers."
A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police said they believed the fire started as a result of an arson attack.
"The initial fire is believed to have led to significant structural damage to the building consistent with a large gas explosion and a structural engineer was called to assess the integrity of the building," she added.
Volunteers from the British Red Cross and the Fire Emergency Support Service looked after the ten residents who had been saved from their flats.
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