FIRE crews have been tackling a huge blaze at a Fareham industrial estate.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to a blaze at a factory in Newgate Lane in Fareham just before midnight.
More than 15 fire engines and at least 100 firefighters were called in to help contain the blaze.
Crews from Fareham, Gosport, Portchester, Cosham, Eastleigh, Redbridge, Hightown, Wickham, Waterlooville, Southsea, Botley, Droxford, Emsworth and St Mary’s Fire Stations attended, together with the Hazardous Materials Detection Identification and Monitoring Team (HAZMAT).
Paul Coates, station manager at Fareham Fire Station, said: ‘When we got there, the flames were 50 foot out of the roof. There were things exploding everywhere. High winds were driving the fire.
‘At least half of the building was already on fire.’
The building was home to a firm called GEA Searles, and firefighters had to work hard to ensure that the neighbouring building didn’t catch alight, which would have made it worse.
Mr Coates added: ‘We had to use our water supply to protect the building next to it. We were hitting the fire from all four sides. We had breathing apparatus in there for two or three hours.
‘The first crews from Fareham did a brilliant job.
‘They were faced with a rapid fire and lots of explosions occurring. We had to move our fire engines straight away as there were cylinders flying everywhere.
‘There were things going bang when we arrived.
‘We had to go through another building to get anywhere near the fire. The end we were at the smoke was down to floor level so we couldn’t walk through the building because we couldn’t see a thing.
‘The unit opposite could have gone up as well - and that was even bigger. We had to put up with potential asbestos inside the building too.’
Two thirds of the building has been completely destroyed.
Firefighters from Fareham are still at the scene now dampening down.
Mr Coates has praised firefighters.
‘They were brilliant. We couldn’t have asked for more,’ he said.
‘We could have had two industrial units gone up and then the houses opposite. It could have spread 360 degrees. It was huge when we got there.
‘The boys did well. I think they are a bit tired now.’
On scene, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have been working in partnership with South Central Ambulance Service, Hampshire Constabulary, Fareham Borough Council and Environment Agency to make the scene safe.
A spokesman from Hampshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that investigations were still underway.
The cause of the fire is not known.
Station Manger at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service John Hinton was in charge of the investigation today and said that crews would be using the aerial platform to look for hotspots and to try and identify the cause.
He praised the work of the crews.
Mr Hinton added: ‘We expect to be here for the rest of the day. Investigations are continuing and what we are doing now is scaling down the incident and dealing with ongoing issues. There has been substantial damage to two of the buildings but fire spreads was stopped before it got to any other buildings thanks to the hard work of the many firefighters involved.’