150 residents moved as half-finished five-storey development is destroyed

An eyewitness to the blaze that ripped through a block of flats in Peckham, south London, has told Building that the fire started on the site of a five-storey housing development.

He said: “A block of flats was demolished six months ago and they were about 50% of the way through the rebuild. This whole area is council flats.”

At this stage it is unknown who the builder was.

The eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “I was woken up at 4.30 by an explosion. There were about 12 in total. I think it was gas canisters.”

He said the flames that engulfed the block reached twice the height of the property, which was four or five storeys.

Southwark council was not immediately available for comment.

Media reports suggest more than 150 local residents have been evacuated but there are no reports of fatalities.

In July six people were killed in a fire that tore through a block of flats in nearby Camberwell.