Heroic firefighters rescued more than 30 people from the residential shelter in Cheshunt, Herts, after a fire broke out at 5.30am today. But despite their brave efforts, two people who were unaccounted for have now been confirmed as fatalities.

Daryl Keen, chief fire officer, said: “The initial crews that arrived were faced with a very severe fire. They made over 30 rescues in a short space of time. They worked extremely hard in very difficult circumstances. Unfortunately as a result of the fire there has been two fatalities. Our thoughts are with the families.”

One resident said: “The fire started at 5.30am, I had just gone to bed at 5am and my wife woke me up, she started panicking. We could see it from the bedroom window. It went up quite quickly.” Six people were also treated for smoke inhalation and a fire investigation team is now believed to be on the scene.