13.5.16 Fire breaks out at Southampton firework store
The huge blaze broke out at the shop in Southampton, setting off dozens of fireworks stored inside.
Explosives lit up the sky and loud bangs were heard as the fire took hold at 05:00 on Bitterne Road West, Southampton.
Homes and properties within 100 metres of the fire on the site of the Southern Fireworks Factory and the Flower Factory were evacuated.
More than 70 fire fighters in 13 engines and support vehicles helped bring the blaze under control.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service group commander Howard Watts said: "It was a challenging scene when we arrived, with all the explosions we couldn't get too close to the fire.
"Our main concern was making sure everyone in the area was safe and to make sure no one was in the building."
At the height of the blaze, a plume of black smoke billowed over the area. The A3024 Bitterne Road West and Northam Bridge were closed in both directions while fire fighters dealt with the blaze. Bitterne Manor Primary School on Quayside Road was also closed during this time.
Southampton City Council lifted the toll on the Itchen Bridge until the roads reopened to ease the congestion.
Southern Water also warned the considerable use of hydrants in the area had left some residents with poor pressure or temporary loss of their water supply.
A rest area was set up at the Ascension Centre in Thorold Road for 60 residents who needed to leave their homes.
Some thought it was thunder and others feared it could be a bomb, but the noise that shattered the early morning peace in Southampton was the result of an explosion that destroyed a business and sent dozens of fireworks soaring into the sky.
An investigation by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has revealed that the exact cause of the fire was plastic-wrapped cardboard boxes stacked close to a light bulb. These boxes then ignited leading to the ferocious blaze.
The council confirmed a licence to store fireworks had been issued to Southern Firework Factory Ltd in September 2015.
Story collated by Liz Turnbull.
Registered Office: Southwold House, 66 Botley Road, Park Gate, Southampton, United KingdomCompany number: 07810000