FIRE chiefs have confirmed a devastating fire that brought Southampton to a standstill was started by accident.

Thick black smoke filled the skyline and flames billowed from the top of the Mayflower Halls high rise after an explosion ripped through the roof at around midday today.

Group manager Gerry Leonard this afternoon confirmed the fire was a result of a construction worker using a heat gun, which reacted with bitumen and insulation material.

Daily Echo:

Roads surrounding the blaze were cordoned off by police for more than three hours as firefighters ascended the 15-storey high building and tackled the fire.

Shoppers, workers and passers-by stood aghast as they saw the flames from below, while thick black smoke could be seen for miles around.

The fire was isolated to the roof of block B, which is still under construction from the Osborne group on behalf of the University of Southampton.

Daily Echo:

Police cordoned off several roads in the city centre

Group manager Gerry Leonard told the Daily Echo this afternoon: “We have carried out investigations and we are comfortable that with the information available to us from people working on the building it was a result of an accident.

“Construction workers were carrying out a process using a heat gun in roof construction. They were using bitumen and insulation materials which became involved in the fire.”

To read how the Echo covered the fire, click here.