ROWLANDS Pharmacy was completely destroyed by the fire which is believed to have started in the Tesco store next door.
Staff gathered on the pavement outside the following morning, as managers decided how to make sure customers could still receive vital medicines.
Debbie Wilson, 53, of Primrose Court, Waterlooville, worked in the pharmacy and received a call in the early hours of Saturday morning telling her what had happened.
She rushed to the scene and could only watch as her workplace went up in smoke.
‘The whole thing was well alight when I arrived,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t believe what I was watching.
‘It is just a tragic shame, these shops were the heart of this small community. Now many of these people have nothing in walking distance.’
Mrs Wilson added that the chemist would aim to make sure no-one went without the drugs they needed.
She said: ‘There were prescriptions in there that people need that have now been destroyed.
‘But no matter what happens, we are not going to give in. We’ll find a way to carry on.
‘On Monday we will hopefully be down here in portable cabins first thing, so people will still be able to get medicine.
‘But if it was started on purpose then that is just awful. Whoever did it should be ashamed of themselves.
‘It’s just such a mindless thing to do.’
Pharmacist Clare Hoy added that she wanted to reassure customers they will still be able to get the prescriptions they need.
She said: ‘I am confident we will be up and running on Monday. There is no reason for the public to worry.’