HUNDREDS of clubbers were evacuated in the early hours of the morning after a fire broke out in Astoria nightclub.
Fire crews from across the area were called to the scene at about 2am, after a blaze in the club’s ceiling, above the dance floor, and spread to its roof void.
Nightclub staff safely evacuated hundreds of clubbers before firefighters from Southsea, Cosham, Portchester and St Mary’s worked for almost two hours to put out the fire, and make the scene safe.
Crew manager Richard Furse, of Southsea Fire Station, said: ‘Everyone was pretty much out when we got there, the door staff did a really good job in getting everyone out and holding the crowds back until we arrived, along with police.
‘We were there for a good two hours and the fire started in the club’s ceiling and spread to its roof void.’
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze on the second floor of the three-storey building resulted in smoke logging throughout the nightclub.
The fire was extinguished using six sets of breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets, two jets and tactical ventilation for smoke clearance.
The incident happened while students attended the venue’s Dirty Disco event, which runs every Tuesday night.
Clubber Robin White, 21 from Gosport, described what it was like inside when the evacuation began.
He said: ‘I was at the bar ordering a drink and were suddenly asked to leave.
‘We had no idea what was going on, but everyone was told to get out through the fire escapes.
‘All I saw was people rushing around towards any exit they could; there wasn’t any real order to it but when everyone has been drinking that is difficult to do anyway.
‘The guys at Astoria did a great job getting everyone out and I didn’t see an ambulance around, so I guess everyone got out okay.
‘Everyone took it very seriously once they realised what happened – it looked like a joke at first to some, but it got serious very quickly.’
Another partygoer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I was at the bar and suddenly all I could hear was screaming.
‘The music was turned off and everyone was told to get out as quick as they could.
‘A few people seemed sad and upset that something like this has happened.’
Guildhall Walk was closed while fire crews dealt with the incident.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
On the Astoria Facebook page, staff wrote: ‘Once again, thank you for everyone’s assistance and patience this evening. We have now been given access back to the venue.’
The club is due to open at midday for people to collect their belongings.