Police have been cleared of blame for a crash in which four people were killed in a high-powered stolen car.

The Subaru Impreza burst into flames after it smashed at high speed into a fish and chip shop in Laisterdyke, Bradford, at 4.35am yesterday after it had been pursued for less then a minute by a police vehicle.

Officers in the pursuit car were quickly joined by colleagues and they made desperate attempts to save the four people trapped in the burning wreckage and put out the blaze using fire extinguishers from their vehicles.

One of the occupants was dragged free by one officer but attempts at resuscitation failed. The three others also died at the scene.

The force of the impact caused part of the Killinghall Fisheries building to collapse on the Subaru, hampering rescue attempts.

Witnesses reported that officers were visibly distressed by the scenes they encountered with one woman officer in tears.

The Subaru had been reported stolen in Daisy Hill, Bradford, a few hours earlier and police had been in the area searching for it, a West Yorkshire Police spokesman said. The force denied the accounts of some witnesses that a rolling roadblock of police vehicles had been used to try to stop the stolen car.

Investigators at the Independent Police Complaints Commission spent all of yesterday at the crash scene in Killinghall Road at the junction with Thornbury Road assessing the circumstances of the tragedy.

Their inquiry included detailed analysis of in-car video footage, radio transmissions and other evidence from the police vehicles involved.

Last night, the IPCC absolved officers of any blame for the tragedy and praised their courage in trying to rescue the people trapped in the burning wreckage.

The watchdog has now passed the crash investigation back to West Yorkshire Police. Nicholas Long, IPCC Commissioner for Yorkshire, said: “Four people died in a tragic incident. My thoughts are with their families at this difficult time. I am aware the officers first on scene acted with courage in their attempts to rescue the trapped occupants.”

Chief Superintendent Alison Rose, divisional commander of Bradford South Police, said: “This was a terrible incident and the officers who went to the scene have understandably been affected by what they saw and are being supported by colleagues.”

Police were not naming the victims of the crash until relatives had been informed.

Structural engineers have had to shore up the fish and chip shop building due to its partial collapse.

Mohammed Shaban, 32, owner of Killinghall Fisheries, said he believed the car had been driven into the corner of the building where the gas mains supply was situated.

“What I’ve been told by people living around here is that they lost control and hit the side of the building,” he said.

“Because of where they hit the building there was a gas explosion and I heard they all died at the scene.

“It’s very sad. It’s bad for me because it affects my business, but it’s extremely sad that lives have been lost.”

A force spokesman said that officers were also investigating whether the stolen Subaru was linked to other incidents of crime that had been reported to the police.

Last night Killinghall Road remained closed from the junction with Leeds Road to the junction with Barkerend Road with diversions in place.

Police said it was likely that the road would re-open at some point today.

Witnesses to the crash or anyone with information about it have been urged to contact Bradford South Roads Traffic Team on 0845 6060606.