FIREFIGHTERS have been praised for their efforts in saving a building from burning to the ground last night.
Eight crews were scrambled to the Britannia chip shop in The Hard, Portsmouth, after a fire started in the kitchen at 7.30pm.
The blaze sparked in the deep fat fryer on the ground floor and spread up a flue, threatening to torch the two flats above.
Smoke poured from the chippy and the flats as more than 30 firefighters from Southsea, Fareham, Portchester, Cosham and Havant flooded the area.
Backed by police and paramedics, they sealed The Hard and a small section of Queen Street as they rushed into the building.
About a dozen firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fought through the smoke as people inside the building were evacuated.
One person was treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics.
Firefighters inside used two water jets and three high-pressure hose reels to put out the blaze.
Bystanders watching the drama were left stunned.
Michael Ross, 34, who was drinking in the nearby Ship Anson pub, said: ‘I saw the smoke coming from the building and I honestly thought it was all about to go up in flames.
‘If it wasn’t for the firefighters quick reaction, I reckon it would have.’
Levi Austin, 14, of Portsea watched in shock as emergency services rushed to the scene.
‘I was walking with my mate when they all came down the road,’ he said.
‘The smoke was coming from the top window and the window below that. I was shocked. My first thought was “is anyone hurt” and “I hope they’re okay”.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’
Firefighters remained at the scene for four hours and used thermal-imaging cameras to check the building.
Group manager Tony Deacon has since praised his team’s efforts and those of the other services.
He said: ‘I’m really proud of them. We worked hard to extinguish the fire.
‘There were concerns about it spreading to neighbouring properties because it was in the flue. We successfully stopped it going to the other building and contained it.’