TWO neighbours battled desperately to protect their homes after a ferocious fire turned a shed into a ‘ball of flames’ this afternoon.
One-legged Colin Jones and his next door neighbour, Andy Carpenter, used garden hoses to try and stop the inferno from destroying their homes, in Park Lane, Bedhampton.
The emergency took place shortly after 1pm today, when IT worker Andy’s wife, Lyn, spotted flames rising from Mr Jones’s shed.
Panicked, 48-year-old Mr Carpenter sprinted over to his neighbour’s house and banged on the door to raise the alarm.
Within minutes, the pair were fighting towering flames, which razed the shed to the ground before spreading to Mr Carpenter’s shed and home.
The heat was so intense it caused plastic guttering to melt, windows to crack and even scorched the side of Mr Jones’s family home, spreading into his garage.
Mr Jones – who lost his left leg in an industrial accident about 20 years ago – was left with burns to his arms after fighting the fire.
He told The News: ‘The fire was red hot. It just kept getting bigger and bigger, it was ridiculous. No matter what we did it was just getting bigger.
‘I thought I was about to lose my house.
‘Thank God this didn’t happen at night. I would have never noticed.
‘The flames spread to my bedroom window. The smoke would have got me. I would never have woken up.’
Mr Carpenter, who celebrated his birthday yesterday and was meant to be having a barbecue with friends and family tonight, said the heat from the blaze was overwhelming.
‘It just took hold so quickly,’ he said. ‘The heat was phenomenal. The flames were huge.
‘I was using my hose and Colin was using his to try and fight the fire.
‘We must have been doing it for about eight minutes until we realised it was a lost cause.’
Four fire crews from across Havant, Cosham and Southsea attended the incident.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatuses battled the blaze for more than an hour, using hoses and water jets to bring the flames under control.
Retired firefighter Dave Armstrong, who lives over the road, joined the effort alongside off-duty firefighter Ken Flint, who also lives in the street.
Nigel Blackman, Havant crew manager, was in charge of battling the inferno and said the scale of the fire was ‘substantial’.
‘There was a mass ball of flame and big plume of black smoke that could be seen from a considerable distance.
‘It was extremely lucky the fire was contained to the outbuilding and didn’t spread any further.’
He also praised the support of fellow colleagues Mr Armstrong and Mr Flint for helping crews to tackle the blaze.
While Mr Jones added: ‘The fire service has been absolutely fantastic. They did an incredible job.
‘My neighbours have been amazing too. It’s just lucky nobody was hurt.’
The cause of the fire is unknown. Fire crews were stood down shortly after 3.15pm.
Mr Jones was treated for minor burns to his arms at the scene.