A CARETAKER was airlifted to hospital following an explosion and fire at a building on the site of John Hampden Grammar School.

Buckinghamshire County Council has confirmed that the caretaker from the High Wycombe school was taken to hospital.

He is believed to have suffered burn injuries following the explosion at his home on the school premises – described by witnesses as 'like a bomb had been dropped'.

The council confirmed no-one else had been injured in the incident, which happened at 2.05pm, and all students had been evacuated from the Handy Cross-based school.

Bucks Free Press: John Hampden explosion 2

This evening head teacher Stephen Nokes told the Bucks Free Press the incident and the injuries to the caretaker had "left a lot of people in a state of shock".

But he added that the school's safety procedures for pupils had been effective: "It went brilliantly well in terms of evacuation safety."

Parent of 15-year-old twins and school pupils Jonathan and Adam Russell, Paula Russell, said she heard a huge explosion from her place of work close to the school.

She said: “I was pretty worried, it felt like someone had dropped a bomb on the building.

“I ran over to there and a block of smoke was coming out of the caretaker's house.”

She added that a friend heard the blast from a bank in High Wycombe town centre.

Bucks Free Press: John Hampden Fire

The above smoke-filled photo was taken by a Wycombe High School pupil, who said students heard the bang at their neighbouring school.

Paul Stanford, whose 14-year-old son Alexander attends the school, said: "I was worried sick. It was an explosion in the caretaker's house but I was told all the kids are OK."

Builder Angel Angelov, 42, was working on the housing development opposite when the explosion happened. He said: "It was a big, big bang - I was on top of one of the houses and the whole thing was shaking."

Another resident who lives close to the school, but who did not wish to be named, described the explosion as a "gut-wrenching bang".

The woman - whose son also attends the school - explained that "her legs gave way" when she realised the school was involved.

On approaching the site she saw the windows of the caretaker's house had blown out.

Bucks Free Press: John Hampden Grammar School explosion

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue deployed three appliances from High Wycombe and a turntable ladder to tackle the blaze.

Thames Valley Police cordoned off the A404 Marlow Hill between the Handy Cross roundabout and the A40 to allow firefighters and the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance to land at the scene.

The roads were reopened at about 3.20pm.

The school has announced on its website that all of today's after school activities have been cancelled.

It is expected to be open as normal tomorrow.