INVESTIGATORS are this morning sifting through the ashes of a burnt-out flat following a fire last night.
The blaze erupted inside the lounge of a first-floor property at Winchester House, in Billy Lawn Avenue, Leigh Park, shortly before 8.20pm.
More than a dozen residents from the three-story building fled their homes as smoke billowed from the ablaze apartment, firefighters said.
Three fire crews – two from Havant and a third from Cosham – were scrambled to the scene amid fears someone was trapped inside the flaming flat. Police and paramedics were also called.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatuses and armed with a hose reel broke into the property in a bid to rescue whoever may have been caught up in the inferno.
However, Havant crew manager Graham Dance said nobody was inside the property when they arrived.
‘It was quite a severe flat fire when we arrived,’ he said. ‘There was smoke coming from the flat and a lot of the occupants from the building had already evacuated.
‘However, there was nobody inside the flat. The flat was damaged by smoke but fortunately the fire was contained and didn’t spread to other properties.’
Officers said they had no idea how the fire had ignited and that this would be the central focus of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s team of investigators today.
They added that when they arrived the smoke alarm of the flat wasn’t sounding.
‘We don't know if it was working or had been burnt-out by the fire but that’s something our fire investigations team will be looking at,’ crew manager Dance added.