Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Residents safe after Southampton shops fire

Flames from building
Image caption Flames and thick black smoke spread to nearby buildings

Residents and market stall holders were evacuated after an early-morning fire started close to a busy shopping street near to Southampton city centre.

The blaze broke out at about 0530 BST in a hand car wash on the A33 Kingsway, near St Mary's, before spreading to shops at the rear of the site.

About 30 residents were evacuated along with local traders who were beginning to set up nearby market stalls.

An investigation is to be carried out to establish how the fire started.

The scene remains cordoned off by police.

'Really scary'

Residents were taken to nearby St Mary's primary school while the blaze was brought under control.

However two flats in St Mary's Street have become uninhabitable.

Nick Green and his fiancee Michelle Keane, both 24, were woken up by the sound of an alarm coming from the building and were told to leave.

"The speed of which it fire took hold and was spreading was really scary," he told the BBC.

"It was pretty worrying, a lot of people were running out wearing their pyjamas

"The fire service was absolutely fantastic, they were there very quickly."

Image caption An investigation is to be carried out to establish how the fire started

Six fire engines attended the scene and firefighters spent more than three hours controlling the flames and have since returned home.

Station manager Ty Whitlock, from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "There were multiple calls to our control room on seeing the flames coming out of both the roof and the front of the building.

"Due to the swift action and coordinated approach the crews were able to prevent any significant spread to nearby shops, flats and other businesses.

"In a relatively short period of time, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were able to liaise with the police and stall holders to ensure business continuity at Southampton's largest market place."

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