Residents had to be rehomed last night after a blaze tore through the roof of their sheltered housing complex.

About 70 firefighters were called to the blaze at Dove Court in Undercliffe yesterday morning which led to the partial collapse of the roof.

Paramedics were on standby as the 40 flats were evacuated and people were taken to Hillside Bridge Health Centre.

Although no residents or staff were hurt, a hazardous area response team stayed within the police cordon, on Bolton Street New and Otley Road, in case firefighters were injured.

Bogdanovli Velicko had an appointment at the health centre when he saw smoke coming from the building at about 9am.

“It was a big fire. A massive fire. You could see the black smoke inside,” he said.

“The smoke was very black and very high. It started little by little then just got bigger and bigger. I saw people being taken out and some of them looked quite scared.”

Dennis Turner, who has lived at the home for three years, watched emergency services from a chair at the top of Bolton Street.

He said he did not know where he would be sleeping last night.

“I was sitting in the lounge when the staff came and ushered us all out. Then I came up here and saw the roof go up in flames.”

Mr Turner, 64, thought he might be allowed back into his flat today but West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Graham Ambler, who co-ordinated the major operation, said it could take longer due to the roof’s collapse and smoke and water damage.

“Staff on site evacuated residents very, very quickly. They did a really good job and there were no injuries whatsoever,” he said.

He said the fire started in the roof void and its cause was still being investigated.

“It’s a modern-type building and the fire compartmentation in it is very good. It stopped the fire spreading really and helped a lot,” he added.

“With the flames coming through the roof, it does look a bit dramatic, but it was quickly brought under control. We had 11 fire engines here and four specialist support,” he said.

The fire was out by 11.30am, but firefighters remained on standby as structural engineers accessed the damage and a the major salvage unit started a clean-up.

Families were invited to the health centre to see residents and staff took medical supplies to them.

The complex is run by Hanover Housing on behalf of Bradford Council.

Lyn Sowray, of the Council’s adult services, said: “We are working with them and their families to find suitable alternative accommodation in the short-term.

“We will then be monitoring the situation with a view to finding a permanent solution once the fire damage has been assessed.”