AN INVESTIGATION is under way after a fire in a flat.
The blaze destroyed the kitchen and dining room of the ground-floor flat in Prospect Lane, Leigh Park, on Sunday night.
Neighbours say they watched as firefighters wearing breathing apparatus battled their way into the smoke-filled flat.
And they say the young man who lives there turned up saying he had left a candle burning while he went to Southsea for the evening.
The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The guy was moaning that one of the girls in the block of flats was calling him an idiot for leaving the candle burning.
‘Well, he is an idiot. It could have been so much worse.
‘Lives could have been lost because of such a stupid thing.
‘There was smoke pouring from the entrance to the flats and most of us were stood out here watching it.
‘We couldn’t believe that he would do something like that.’
The purpose-built block of supported living flats is run by Ability Housing Association.
A carer is on site from 9am to 5pm and was not there at the time of the blaze.
Two fire engines from Havant and one from Emsworth were called to the three-storey building just after 10.30pm.
Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera after fears there was someone still in the building.
Watch manager Craig Sadler, of Havant fire station, said: ‘There was a fire involving a ground-floor flat.
‘We thought there were persons trapped in the building, but searching each flat, while extinguishing the fire, found no persons were inside and all were accounted for.
‘The fire is believed to have originated in the lounge.
‘The kitchen dining room was 100 per cent destroyed by fire and the rest of the flat was smoke damaged.’
The fire investigation team from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spent yesterday at the flat and were seen carrying out burnt pieces of furniture.
Police were stationed outside the flat most of yesterday but no arrests have been made.
Fire service spokeswoman Julie Jacobs said they could not comment on the candle claims as the cause of the fire was still being investigated.