ARSON could be cause of a fire in a former Gosport pub which forced several families to flee their homes.
Eleven people escaped flats in the former White Swan, on Forton Road, after flames ripped through a communal area on the ground floor at 2.55am today.
As reported, a number of other people got onto the roof through a smashed window before getting down themselves.
A police officer at the scene this morning confirmed an investigation into the cause was underway, and it’s initially being treated as a suspected arson attack.
Near besidents meanwhile spoke of their shock.
Roger Morgan, 64, who lives opposite in Penny Court with Jean Wilson, 68, said: ‘We didn’t hear anything, but it’s quite a shock.
‘We were wondering why the police were here.’
Another resident said: ‘It had only recently been renovated.
‘I’m glad that everyone is safe.
‘It’s a definite shock. But I didn’t hear anything. The only thing you really hear around this place are animals.’
Firefighters from Gosport and Fareham were sent out to the incident at 2.55am.
Residents inside had put out the fire before they arrived using buckets of water, but remained trapped inside as smoke swamped the stairways.
So fire crews got in and ventilated the whole building so the 12 residents - which firefighters were made up of ‘several families’ could get out.
A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We were called shortly before 3am to the former White Swan public house, our colleagues from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service ensured that the fire at the front of the property didn’t cause serious damage. Eleven people, including three children, were inside at the time and were checked over by Paramedics at the scene. No-one was seriously hurt.
‘An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire, but we are not linking this to any other incidents at the current time.’
Anyone with information that may be relevant to the investigation or who saw something suspicious is asked to contact DC Jacqueline McMurchie at Fratton Police Station on 101, quoting 44160425526.
Alternatively, contact hampshire.police.uk/internet/do-it-online/online-forms/message-for-officer.html
You can also call the charity Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.