A second floor flat was significantly damaged by the fire and explosion and there was heat and smoke damage to the third floor flat above. There was external damage to the building caused 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 was taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews.

“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.

“Following the fire and explosion, crews remained on scene due on an on-going gas leak in the building. A 25m cordon was in place as a precaution.

“Part of Bethnal Green Road was shut and motorists were advised to avoid the area where possible.”

The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers took 42 calls to the incident.

The Brigade was called at 1753 and the incident was over for firefighters by 0217. Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Shadwell, Dockhead, Islington and surrounding fire stations were at the scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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