THREE units, seven stables, four cars and three heavy goods vehicles were all damaged in a horrific fire that engulfed part of a Denmead yard and saw black plumes of smoke billowing into the air.
What is believed to be a work-related accidental fire that started in a car repair workshop at Furze Hill Farm, Sheepwash Lane, left two men needing hospital treatment – with one man in his 50s suffering serious burns.
Multiple explosions took place during the incident just after 4pm on Wednesday, which firefighters said were caused by overheated gas cylinders.
Furniture restoration workshop Boogaloo, which is next to the car repair workshop, was totally destroyed, and another unit next to that containing golf course machinery also damaged.
READ MORE: 50 firefighters battle Denmead fire
The seven stables that were destroyed back on to those three units. No horses were harmed.
The man in his 50s was taken to University Hospital Southampton for treatment along with a man in his 40s, who was treated for smoke inhalation.
The family which owns the yard and the woman who owns the stables have spoken of their devastation at such a terrible start to the new year.
Denise Hillman owns the seven destroyed stables, which she rents out to horse owners.
‘I’m devastated, heartbroken, I’ve lost one third of my business,’ she said.
‘I got a phone call when the fire started and rushed to the yard in hysterics.
‘All I could see was it going up in smoke.
‘Luckily the ponies had been rescued, I was here until gone 11pm and came back at 5am this morning.’
Denise described how she struggled to get to the yard because of the traffic and the fact everyone had stopped to watch the smoke. At first she couldn’t get to the yard because Sheepwash Lane was closed but a firefighter walked her down, at which point she broke down.
Debbie Payne is the daughter of Mark Sale, who owns the entire yard, and said her family are devastated about the incident but want to thank the emergency services for their work.
‘It’s a miracle nobody was more seriously hurt than they were,’ she said.
‘I live opposite the farm and heard the initial explosions, and all you could see was the whole place up in flames.
‘We’re very shocked by the whole thing and it’s a terrible start to the New Year, but thank god the weather didn’t fan the blaze, there wasn’t much wind.
‘The fire brigade were fantastic, all the emergency services were, and it’s amazing all the livestock were saved.’
A JustGiving page has been set up to help horse owners replace the items they lost.
Amelia Norman, 20, from Bedhampton, was about to leave the yard and her two horses when she saw fire and smoke.
She said: ‘My two and a friend’s one were in their stables when I noticed smoke and the fire and we quickly got them out into other fields and moved all the surrounding cars.
‘I lost everything else.
‘There's a really close group of us at the yard, we are like family so we are having a shuffle around of other stables so the horses who had their stables damaged have somewhere to go until they are rebuilt.’
More than 50 firefighters from crews across the area battled the blaze and the fire service kept a presence at the site until this morning.