A ROW of shops in Waterlooville was devastated by fire early this morning.
A FIRE that has left three businesses gutted by fire is being treated as suspicious by police.
At 2.26am around 50 firefighters were called to a huge blaze in Lavender Road, Stakes Lodge, Waterlooville.
The fire had engulfed three buildings; a Tesco Express, a Rowlands Pharmacy and the Kim Laurie Chinese takeaway.
Six fire engines attended from Waterlooville, Cosham, Havant, Winchester, Horndean and Emsworth.
The blaze was quickly brought under control, however the Tesco and pharmacy buildings were 100 per cent destroyed.
No one was injured in the incident and investigators from Hampshire Fire and Rescue are now working with police to determine the cause of the fire.
Station manager Spencer-Peet said: ‘This is the second fire involving a Tesco’s property in Waterlooville in just over a year.
‘In July 2010 a Tesco store in Grassmere Way was completely destroyed by fire. This was caused by arson and was the third fire at the premises in the past ten years.
‘Crews worked extremely hard to bring the fire under control and save the Chinese takeaway whilst valuable resources from Portsmouth and Southampton had to be brought in.
‘Last year a teenager was jailed for 16 months for causing the fire at Grassmere lane as result of the service’s dedicated fire investigation team. Investigating fires is an important part of our work, as it is imperative that we correctly identify the causes of fire. If we suspect arson, we will examine and record evidence to help prosecute those responsible.’
And people living nearby have told how they were woken in the early hours of the morning by the fire.
Amanda Saunders, 30, lives with her husband and two children in the nearest property to the Tesco store, just yards away.
She said: ‘We woke up at 3.15am and we could see the fire blazing outside.
‘The police came round and and evacuated us along with our neighbours on the left and right, so we spent the night in the back of a police van.
‘It was terrifying – really scary.’
They were later able to return home.
Police spokeswoman Vicky O’Hare said: ‘Officers are currently working with colleagues from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to investigate the cause of the fire, which is currently being treated as suspicious.
‘Detectives are appealing for anyone who saw anything unusual in the early hours of this morning or who has any information about this incident to contact them.’
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Waterlooville CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers number anonymously on 0800 555111.