Police and security staff were today looking for 14 asylum seekers who escaped from a detention centre in Kidlington after a fire started in an accommodation block.

A total of 26 detainees broke out of Campsfield House in Langford Lane after 11pm last night but 12 have since been caught.

Officers in riot gear were brought in to restore calm at the centre and firefighters tackled the blaze.

A helicopter, police dogs and a large number of officers were yesterday searching for the escapees in fields around the centre.

They also searched the sheds and outhouses of homes in Evenlode Crescent, close to one of the gated entrances to the centre.

The trouble began a day after more than 150 detainees agreed to suspend a hunger strike they had been maintaining since Tuesday.

They complained to officials about overcrowded conditions and claimed they were being held illegally.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said today that although 14 detainees were still missing, the situation was "fully under control".

Following the breakout, police and security officers secured the centre, to prevent other detainees escaping.

A Home Office spokesman also said "every effort" was being made to recapture those still at large.

He said: "The establishment itself suffered minor damage.

"Borders and Immigration Agency staff, prison service staff, police and GEO are working to ensure a speedy return to normality at Campsfield."

Campsfield was converted into an immigration detention centre in 1993 amid a storm of protest from local residents.

It is run by the American company GEO and holds up to 200 male asylum seekers.

The breakout follows a major incident earlier this year when detainees started a fire inside the centre and rioted.

Supt Robin Rickard, commanding the police response, said: "Having located 12 of the escaped detainees, we are working with the Borders and Immigration Agency and GEO, who run the centre on their behalf, to establish the identities of those who are still missing and get them back into custody as soon as possible.

"We have a substantial number of resources dedicated to the task and are doing all we can to locate the detainees as quickly as possible.

"I urge members of the public to contact us immediately should they see anyone they believe could be one of those involved."