Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Florist vows to rebuild after Southampton firework fire

Bitterne Road West in Southampton Image copyright Peter Haughton
Image caption Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said plastic-wrapped cardboard boxes ignited after they were stacked close to a 300 watt lightbulb

A florist whose business was destroyed in a fire which set off explosions at a neighbouring fireworks factory has pledged to rebuild his business.

Mark Fitzpatrick's store was destroyed after explosives lit up the sky at neighbouring Southern Firework Factory in Southampton on 13 May.

Hampshire Fire said plastic-wrapped cardboard boxes ignited after they were stacked close to a 300 watt lightbulb.

Mr Fitzpatrick said rebuilding the business was a priority.

He said he was "absolutely devastated" when he discovered the blaze at the family business on Bitterne Road West.

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Media captionAn explosion ripped through Southern Firework Factory

"When I was coming over the Itchen bridge , I saw the smoke and I began screaming. The business is my life. The feeling I got when I saw the shop ablaze was absolutely horrendous - a feeling I never want to experience again," he said.

No-one was injured during the incident but homes and properties within 100 metres (328 ft) of the fire were evacuated. Bitterne Manor Primary School was also closed.

"There was just nothing I could do. It was gone. We were just lucky that nobody got hurt."

Image copyright IAN SAINSBURY
Image caption Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had received up to 50 calls by 05:00 BST on 13 May

Mr Fitzpatrick's daughter, Jessica said she feared her father would suffer a heart attack following the "emotional rollercoaster".

"We have lost a lot - including three olive trees worth £2k each. The fixtures and fittings also need to be replaced. I don't know how much the clean-up bill will be - but it will be a lot."

The family said they have set up a market stall in Southampton but hope to rebuild the store "as soon as possible".

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