BUSINESSES are counting the cost of damage caused after a fire tore through an industrial unit.
Up to 40 firefighters tackled the blaze in Larchwood Avenue, Bedhampton, near the Asda supermarket.
Crews were called on Saturday evening by members of the public who spotted smoke rising from the units next to the supermarket’s petrol station.
Firefighters from stations in Cosham, Havant, Southsea, Portchester, Eastleigh, Fareham and Southampton were sent out.
When they got there they were told gas cylinders were inside and so had to rush in and remove them.
An investigation has started into the cause of the blaze but it is not yet known if it was accidental or suspicious.
Yesterday police officers were standing guard outside the units.
Darren Waters is the owner of one of the units which was damaged by smoke.
He was driving past the area when he spotted the smoke and went to investigate, fearing his warehouse was alight.
‘I thought everything would have been written off and that it was all gone,’ he said.
‘But actually it doesn’t seem as bad and I’m hoping everything is OK. Everything inside is covered in a layer of soot. I was driving past and I saw the smoke so I came straight here in case it was my unit that was on fire.
‘The smoke and the fire didn’t seem to have spread at the time but a bit later you could see smoke coming from the corner of my place.
‘I let the firefighters in and they went in with their breathing apparatus and opened everything up.
‘Smoke was coming out of the doors but it wasn’t a lot.’
Two lorries inside one of the units were severely damaged by the fire, while another two were badly damaged by smoke.
Control room operators at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service fielded more than 30 999 calls from worried members of the public who saw the smoke.
A spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘An investigation into the cause of the blaze is continuing.’
Firefighters had put out the fire by 9.20pm after being called to the scene at about 6.45pm.
Yesterday a damaged horse box was visible through the burned-out industrial unit.
Station manager Dave Graham said: ‘Once acetylene cylinders were reported we quickly entered the premises and were able to remove them safely. We worked closely with our colleagues in the police, who assisted us with traffic management in the surrounding area.’