POLICE are investigating a fire which destroyed a half-built block of flats in West Wycombe last night.

Neighbours in West Wycombe Road were evacuated as more than 50 firefighters from six fire stations battled to bring the blaze under control.

It comes as it was revealed the 23 flats were being built by an affordable housing company.

Insp Mark Stevens, co-ordinating the investigation, said: “Fortunately no one has been seriously injured.

“Two people were rescued from an adjacent building by the fire service and a family managed to escape on their own.

“Three people suffered smoke inhalation - a woman who was treated at the scene and two people who have been taken to Wycombe General Hospital for treatment.

“We are in the early stages of our inquiry and are working closely with the fire service to establish the full circumstances as to how the fire started.

“I appeal to anyone who might have information to help with our investigation, to come forward.”

It was being built by Blueprint New Homes Ltd, which won planning permission in 2007 for eight, one-bed and 15, two-bed flats in 2007.

This included seven flats for affordable housing firm Housing Solutions Group, based in Maidenhead.

The A40 was closed between Desborough Park Road and the BP garage.

The fire took down telephone lines and left two people needing hospital treatment because of smoke inhalation.

Guests at the nearby Buckingham Hotel were among those affected by the blaze.

Owner Shaf Dad said: “I received a call saying there was a fire in the building opposite the Buckingham Hotel.

“Our phone lines are down because it has set fire to the phone cables so all communications out of the hotel have gone.

“Everyone's fine but we are extremely concerned about our guests. We've got guests who want to check in but nobody's being allowed through.

“It's quite distressing for the guests and ourselves but everyone's fairly chirpy.”

One resident who has yet to be allowed home is Simon Newell, who lives next door to the flats.

He said: “I was lying on my bed and I could feel the heat coming through. I ran round trying to get everyone out the building. We got everyone out when the fire brigade arrived.”

Referring to the block of flats, Mr Newell said: “I have been watching it go up over the last month or two months. It's all wooden and that's why it caught fire.”

Nobody was on the building site itself at the time of the fire starting at around 7.15pm. The fire service was called at 7.17pm and the police at 7.26pm.

Around 50 firefighters from High Wycombe, Beaconsfield, Marlow, Princes Risborough, Stokenchurch and Aylesbury fire stations were called.

Station manager Dean Elliott said: “There were four or five floors together with a basement and it's collapsed.

“The scaffolding is still up but there's a threat of that collapsing on the road. Building Control are inspecting the damage.

“We are currently in a defensive mode, preventing the fire spreading.

“How it started, we don't know. We will be helping police carry out a fire investigation.

“The crews will still be here beyond midnight, possibly all night, carrying out an investigation and damping it down.”

He added three men and two women were treated for smoke inhalation. Two of them have gone to hospital, he said.

Cookham resident Susie Hampton was at the scene before it was cordoned off.

She said: "It was like nothing I've seen before, the whole building was just wrecked.

"Bits of large ember were bouncing off the roads."

Anyone with information can call Thames Valley Police on 0845 8 505 505 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.