STAFF at a fire hit factory are expected to return to work today.
Around £2m of stock was saved by firefighters who battled an inferno at GEA Searle, which manufactures heat exchangers, on Collingwood Retail Park, Fareham.
More than 80 firefighters worked through the night to contain the fire and protect nearby buildings, when a fire took hold at just before midnight on Wednesday and raged until the early hours.
Eyewitnesses said the flames, when at their highest, were above the nearby bowling alley.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue area manager Steve Foye said: ‘Our firefighters performed extremely well, and their hard work managed to contain the well-developed fire.
‘These actions meant that the fire was contained, protecting nearby buildings and saving in the region of £2m worth of stock for the business.
‘This was particularly impressive as the fire was especially challenging due to its ferocity and the presence of a number of gas cylinders, some of which exploded.’
More than 15 fire crews and a vast array of firefighters’ equipment was used to control the fire.
A spokesman from Hampshire Fire and Rescue said investigations were under way.
The cause of the fire is not known although it appears to have started in the research and development department and spread to the final assembly building.
GEA Searle was unavailable for comment yesterday. A sign on the door said the factory would be closed to allow the investigation to take place.
The 200 workers were asked to return today.