THE city centre student block damaged in a huge explosion is still on course for completion, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Southampton came to a standstill last week as workers were forced to evacuate the top floor of the Mayflower Halls development after it became engulfed in flames and thick smoke.

Firefighters rushed to the scene in Commercial Road, Southampton, to tackle the accidental blaze on April 3.

Construction firm Osborne, which is carrying out the work on behalf of the University of Southampton, has now confirmed the building is on course for completion before the start of the new academic year in September.

It said the cause of the fire was down a heat gun accidentally setting fire to insulation being installed onto the roof.

Witnesses told the Daily Echo at the scene they heard a loud explosion and thick smoke could be seen billowing from the building for miles around.

A spokesman for Osborne said: “Osborne and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service worked together quickly and established the location of the water fire hydrants in West Park Road.

“Fire hydrants were then connected to the fully tested and commissioned dry riser which allows the emergency services’ water provision to each floor.

“This assisted the fire service to quickly tackle and extinguish the fire on the roof.”

The spokesman added: “Each of the three blocks, as part of its design, incorporates full life safety addressable fire alarm system with call points, smoke and heat detectors, a fully charged sprinkler system on the advice of the fire service including dry risers, smoke extract and ventilation systems, means of escape staircases, fire fighting lifts and fire compartments.

“Together with procedures that will be implemented by the University of Southampton prior to occupation, such as fire risk assessment, fire action plans and drills, the Mayflower Halls development will provide exemplary life safety protection for its occupants.

“Osborne still anticipates that the completion of the development for the new academic year will not be affected by this incident.”