Blaze at Portsmouth tower blocks is being treated as arson, police say

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Police have said they are treating a fire at a Portsmouth tower block in the early hours of this morning as arson.

More than 50 firefighters from across the area were called out to Handsworth House to reports of a fire in a bin chute at about 1.45am.

Scene outside Handsworth House, Somers Town today, after the fire last night

Scene outside Handsworth House, Somers Town today, after the fire last night

READ MORE: Two people in hospital after 50 firefighters tackle tower block fire

Two people were taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham where they were treated for smoke inhalation.

A police spokesperson said: ‘I can confirm this is being treated as arson. 

‘There were two fires set, one on the 15th floor and one on the 16th floor.’ 

READ MORE: ‘I could see and smell smoke, I started crying’ – Tower block residents tell of blaze

Crews said the fire was out in under one hour, leaving at 4.15am, after making sure the scene was safe.

The building is owned by Portsmouth City Council.

Meredydd Hughes, assistant director - buildings at the council said: ‘A joint investigation involving police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) is taking place to assess the cause of the fire. 

‘HFRS have advised that they were satisfied that the performance of the building in relation to the fire was as expected.’

The council-owned Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town will have to be evacuated within the next year after structural defects were discovered when cladding was removed. Handsworth House is not affected by this.

READ MORE: Your questions answered on Leamington and Horatia House

Anyone with information should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101 quoting 44180249643.