Around 100 residents were evacuated overnight on Sunday from a town centre block of flats, following reports of an acrid, chemical smell in the building.

The residents of Wellington House, on Wellington Street near the train station, were asked to leave their homes at around 10pm on Saturday, while the cause of the smell was investigated.

A total of 72 residents, including 13 children, were provided with nearby hotel accommodation for the night, with the remainder either staying with friends and family, or among the 20 taken to a ‘rest centre’ set up in the council’s Civic Centre, with the British Red Cross providing camp beds, blankets and refreshments.

The fire brigade, Swindon Borough Council incident team and police were all on-site during the investigations at the six-storey residential block, which continued well into Monday. People finally started to be allowed back into their homes at 11.30am.

Damien Bence, Group Manager for the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We had calls to a strong acrid smell – people were worried.

“The call came in about 10pm [Sunday] and we were here until about 3am this [Monday] morning.

“We couldn’t find any direct cause for it. We have done another search today to make sure nothing has happened.

“The thing about funny smells is that this is that anything can cause them.

“The local authority are now just beginning the process of rehousing people – we had to break a few doors to gain access to the flats.

Donna Liggins, the on-site local authority incident officer, said: “Swindon Borough Council has duty of care and welfare.

“The local authority’s job is to make sure everyone is rehoused.

“There was a total of 41 flats evacuated. We accommodated 72 residents, including 13 children, into hotels. The remaining 20 were accommodated in a rest centre. British Red Cross were called to support us with the welfare.”

Kaleem Sheikh, 34, a resident of Wellington House, said: “Yesterday night, around 10pm, I got a call from my friend saying the fire brigade is outside.

“They have collected all the keys from all the flats – there were three flats for which we were not able to give any contact details.

“They have managed it very well, they have asked if anyone needs medical help or requires anything else.”