Emergency authorities declared a “major incident on Hinckley Road” just after 7pm local time after an explosion destroyed a home and a convenience store in the central English city of Leicester.
The local ambulance service said it took four patients to the hospital and its hazardous response team was at the site.
Pictures and videos posted on Twitter showed flames leaping into the sky above the city and the remains of what some witnesses said was a convenience store and a house that had been destroyed in the blast.
“All emergency services are currently dealing with this,” the police force said in a statement. “Please avoid the area.”
The city’s fire department sent six fire engines after reports of a large explosion and a building collapse.
A picture used by the Leicester Mercury newspaper showed a blaze and the rubble of a destroyed building which the newspaper said housed a convenience store and a flat above it.
“We got a call about an hour ago after reports of a large explosion and a building collapse,” a firefighter in the city’s fire department’s control room said.
A picture used by the Leicester Mercury newspaper showed a blaze above the rubble of the destroyed building, which housed a convenience store and a flat above it.
“We heard an absolutely massive explosion. It was pretty frightening,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified resident who lives a few streets away.
“We went to look out of the upstairs windows and saw loads of smoke, and then a few seconds later massive orange flames.”
There were no immediate indications that the explosion was linked to terrorism, broadcaster Sky News reported, citing unidentified sources.