Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Inquiry after building site fire in Basingstoke

Basingstoke fire
Image caption Six people were evacuated. Pic by Hampshire Fire and Rescue

Investigators are examining the aftermath of a huge fire which spread through a building site in Hampshire.

At the height of the blaze, more than 100 firefighters and 16 fire engines were battling the flames at Gershwin Road, Basingstoke.

There were fears the timber-framed flats under construction could collapse as the blaze took hold.

Several people had to be moved from their homes as the fire threatened to spread to nearby properties.

About 50 surrounding homes and Brighton Hill Community College were also affected by smoke and falling pieces of burning ash.

Two cranes on site were damaged.

Police said some residents had been able to return home on Saturday afternoon, after spending the night sheltering in a rest centre.

The fire service said it believed the building under construction was retirement flats.

Fire service officials and police were beginning an investigation into what caused the blaze, which started on Friday evening.

'Increasingly concerned'

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "We're scaling down there now. It was a very challenging job.

"The building was timber framed and under construction and there is always the danger of it collapsing."

Chief Officer John Bonney, who is also president of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said: "When timber framed buildings catch fire the actual structure burns. It often leads to total collapse and that puts the safety of our firefighters at risk.

"The potential for fire spread was clearly of major concern at this incident, and shows that the Chief Fire Officers Association is right to be increasingly concerned about the number and severity of fires in timber framed buildings under construction."

Fire crews from Surrey and Berkshire were also called to the incident.

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