PEOPLE living close to the scene of a devastating blaze at a block of north Oxford flats say they did not hear any fire alarms go off.

Flames and smoke caused the roof to partially collapse at the complex in Woodstock Close, near the Church of SS Gregory and Augustine, on Wednesday, forcing residents to seek shelter in temporary accommodation.

Removal and storage company Headington Carriers says two of its workmen, Colin Odley and another who does not want to be identified, were on site but unable to activate the alarms.

A company representative explained: “They were doing a delivery in the block opposite and saw smoke coming through the roof. They rang the fire brigade and both ran into the building. They went to sound the alarm [which did not go off] and knocked on every door.”

One claims he hit alarms on floors 1, 2, 3 and 4 to no avail – and hit one so hard that it broke.

There were no injuries in the blaze, which was attended by six fire engines from around 12.40pm.

Marinos Vaos, who lives in a second floor flat in the block, but who was not home at the time of the blaze, is certain the alarms did not go off.

He said: “No alarm was raised. Two of my neighbours told me and I trust them.”

Expressing concern about what might have happened had the fire occurred at night, he added: “Most of the people are very old. I don’t know if many people are less than 60.”

Speaking on behalf of the Fire Service, Oxfordshire County Council Spokesman Paul Smith said management company Peerless Properties were dealing with residents.

He said: "Now the response to the immediate incident has concluded we have no involvement.”

Mr Smith had been asked about the cause of the fire, whether the alarms were sounded and who owned the building, but did not offer any answers with the investigation ongoing.

Maureen Keenan, who lives in a house facing the block, said she saw two workmen who appeared to be doing repairs on the area of the roof where the fire started.

Asked about the fire alarm, Mrs Keenan said she had not heard one and added: “Even if a car alarm goes off, being inside we can still hear it – with a fire alarm we would expect the same thing.”

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire safety in shared accommodation has been under additional scrutiny.

Peerless Properties, who manages the block, did not comment when asked if the fire alarms failed. It said it was not in a position to provide any additional information while investigations continued.

Phillip Poole, who lives in flat 20 of the block, said he thought the whole block may need rebuilding and that he expected to live elsewhere for several months.

Residents were put in a hotel earlier this week and told to look for temporary accommodation.

Prof Gerald Seaman, who lives in the third floor of the next block, said he thought he may have heard an alarm but that it might have come from his own block.

Two other couples and another resident on the same floor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they did not hear a smoke alarm.

One said: “Peerless are very on the ball. I’ve got nothing but praise for them. They’ve been hot on fire escapes.”