Riot police battled to restore order at Campsfield House detention centre in Kidlington yesterday after a fire broke out inside.

A blaze is thought to have been sparked after staff tried to remove what was reported to be an Algerian who was due to be deported.

Nine people needed hospital treatment after detainees and staff inhaled smoke at the centre at about 6.30am. Teams of highly-trained prison officers - dubbed Tornado units - equipped to deal with riots were sent to the centre in Langford Lane.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called and the Home Office said seven members of staff and two detainees were taken to hospital.

About 25 firefighters tackled the blaze. One firefighter said flames started inside the room of one detainee before spreading to other rooms. A dozen riot police carrying shields entered the centre. Thames Valley Police sent about 35 officers to prevent detainees escaping but did not go inside the building.

The Home Office was remaining tight-lipped on how the incident began and how many detainees were involved. Bob Hughes, a spokesman for the Campaign to Close Campsfield, said: "The fact there has not been a riot here for about 10 years is an amazing testimony to the decency of the poor men who are locked up in that place."

Campsfield, which is run by private company GEO UK, can hold up to 196 adult male detainees, but it is not known how many are currently held there. Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said: "This is very worrying, especially given the history of disturbances at Campsfield House, and continued allegations and complaints of poor treatment of detainees."

Thames Valley Police said it was investigating the cause of the blaze. A spokesman added: "It's likely to be suspicious."

The situation at Campsfield House was described as "calm" yesterday evening as the Home Office said up to a third of its 200 detainees would be moved, under escort, to other detention centres in the UK.

Lin Homer, director general of the Home Office's Immigration Nationality Directorate, said: "The situation is fully contained and the centre is calm. Although seven staff and two detainees were taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation, I am pleased to say that all members of staff and one detainee have been discharged. One detainee remains in hospital under observation.

"No detainee will be released from anywhere in the IND estate as a result of the disturbance and we will continue to remove immigration offenders as planned."