NEGHBOURS have spoken about the terrifying moment when a family fled a burning Hampshire home early this morning.

A woman and her three children escaped the two-storey chalet bungalow in Holbury at 5.50am today.

An investigation is underway this morning into the blaze which took hold in an upstairs room, spreading to the roof and a neighbouring garage.

The woman, in her 40s, her teenage child and two younger siblings were in forced to run from their beds when the smoke alarms sounded.

They were checked over by paramedics at the scene.

Husband Steven Lawrence was at work at the time but returned shortly afterwards to comfort his family and survey the damage.

A woman in her 60s living next door also left her home as the blaze spread to her garage.

Neighbour Robin Drodge, 75, phoned 999 after a passer by spotted the flames and banged on his door.

He said: "There was smoke billowing out the roof and then flames started to take hold.“They spread rapidly, it didn't take long and it it was horrific.

“The kids were running out crying one was carrying a cat. They were terrified but everybody rallied round to help them."

Daily Echo:

Rosemary Rockett, 79, who lives opposite said: "I heard shouting and thought it was kids on the way to school.

“Then I looked out the window and saw flames and thick black smoke and saw the family in the street. "We've said if there's anything they need we can help.

“We wish there was more we could do.”

Jo Boothman lives next door on the other side of the house and initially sheltered the family before they evacuated their house as a precaution. She said: "The kids didn't know what was going on but they were brilliant.

"It's really lucky they weren't hurt."

A pensioner who wished to remain anonymous said: “It was burning and crackling, going over the roof and back of the property.

“It's devastating and I can't imagine what it is like for that to happen to your home.

“I'm just glad they are alright and got out safely.”

Crews of 35 firefighters from St Mary's, Redbridge, Beaulieu, Hardley, Hythe and Portchester stations battled the flames using an aerial ladder platform.

Daily Echo:

The flames completely destroyed the roof and upper floor and caused damage to the downstairs and the neighbouring property.

An investigation is underway and police and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) engineers are working in the street.

One of the brigade's group manager Dave Turner said: "When crews arrived they ascertained that everyone was out of the building.

"Crews have worked hard to prevent it spreading to anymore adjacent properties."We are investigating the cause of the fire."Our message is that smoke alarms save lives."