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Detainees in hospital after blaze

An immigration centre has been badly damaged and two detainees are in hospital after a severe fire.

The two men are receiving treatment after fire broke out at the Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Oxfordshire yesterday, the Home Office said.

Ten fire engines, the ambulance service and police were called to the high security facility at Kidlington near Oxford at 9pm.

Residents living near the scene said they heard sirens and could smell smoke late into the night.

Meanwhile, the roof of one of the centre's three detention blocks, where detainees are housed, is seriously damaged with a gaping hole and exposed blackened rafters a testament to the ferocity of the blaze.

The fire was out by this morning, and an investigation team is now at the scene to establish the cause.

Throughout the day minibuses with blacked out windows have been coming and going at the centre, as the Home Office said more than half the site's residents were being relocated.

A Home Office spokesman said: "A fire at Campsfield immigration removal centre has led to more than half of the detainees being relocated to other removal centres around the UK.

"All the detainees have been accounted for and two male detainees are now in hospital.

"The cause of the fire is being investigated by police and the fire service."

The immigration centre forms part of a larger site, some of which is used for training by both the prison and police services.

The compound, on the outskirts of the town, is in a rural area and surrounded by high wire fencing topped with razor wire.

People living nearby described last night seeing the emergency services arriving and a strong smell of smoke.

A woman, who declined to be named, said she and her husband heard sirens and looked out of their front door to see "four or five fire engines at about 9pm, coming down the road".

"I could smell smoke but it was hazy and damp last night so it was difficult to see anything over there," she said.

Another neighbour who has lived in the road more than 30 years said there had been very little trouble over the years.

"We had some escapees a few years ago, maybe six years ago, but they found them," she said.

"They caught one of them in a back garden in a house up the road, but we've had no trouble at all since."

The UK Border Agency website states the centre, privately run by MITIE, has space for 216 beds.

It describes Campsfield House as a long-term centre for men, who are detained pending the outcome of their immigration case and subsequent removal.


From Belfast Telegraph