AN INVESTIGATION is underway after a devastating fire ripped a hole through the wall of a fourth-storey flat on Saturday.
A total of 45 firefighters and nine appliances attended the scene at the 10-storey building above the Tesco Express store in Gunwharf Quays.
The flat is severely damaged. It has been absolutely gutted but luckily it was the only flat that was internally affected by the fire.Deputy Chief Officer Neil Odin
Firefighters were on the scene just after 1pm with three people treated for light smoke inhalation as the building was evacuated.
Crowds gathered around the shopping centre to watch the crews battle the flames with the wind-driven fire extinguished at about 2pm.
The fire itself was contained to only the one flat, creating a hole in the exterior of the building and it is believed the blaze started in a kitchen with a joint investigation by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Police underway into the cause.
Deputy Chief Officer Neil Odin said at the scene: ‘The flat is severely damaged. It has been absolutely gutted but luckily it was the only flat that was internally affected by the fire.
‘Firefighters faced difficult circumstances and hot conditions but managed to tackle the blaze quickly and keep residents safe.
‘I would like to thank all the crews involved for the skill, dedication and bravery they showed in the way they dealt with the incident and their rapid intervention.
‘It is believed the fire started in a kitchen but a joint investigation is underway to confirm the cause.’
Appliances headed to the scene from all across Hampshire, including Cosham, Southsea, Havant, Fareham and Eastleigh with an aerial ladder platform used by Southsea fire station.
Fears were expressed by onlookers over residents that had been seen on the penthouse roof of the building but DCO Odin said that they had been asked to leave their flat due to potential smoke inhalation.
Lyn Murphy, an eyewitness, walked past the flat to see smoke billowing out of it.
She said: ‘It was just a bit of smoke at first but then there was a lot. I could see flames within the flat.’
A South Central Ambulance Service spokeswoman said they were called at 1.20pm and an ambulance was sent to treat one patient at the scene.