More than 70 firefighters today fought a dangerous blaze that wrecked a Hampshire business park.

Gas cylinders exploded whilst the crews tackled the fire at Dradfield Business Park in Soberton Heath near Wickham.

Daily Echo:

Several nearby homes were evacuated after the alarm was raised at around 1.30am.

A number of corrugated iron units were wrecked as were seven vehicles.

Daily Echo:

But the firefighters from six stations stopped the flames from reaching a pallet yard or the nearest home only 25 yards away.

Neighbour Anthony Burton, below, spoke today of how he heard loud bangs in the night and thought they were shotguns.

Mr Burton said: "I heard 25-30 bangs and then it sounded like fireworks. I was worried for my barn where I have heavy machinery, fireworks and 36 solar panels.

"But the fire brigade were here within 15 minutes and took control. The were very efficient and protected our property.”

Daily Echo:

Incident commander Stephen Buchanan-Lee said: "The main hazard were about a dozen gas cylinders. Several exploded. All safety precautions were taken.


Daily Echo: "Nobody was in the risk area. But the hazard factor was relatively high.

"The cylinders have to be continuously cooled and monitored with thermal cameras and we create a safety cordon around that."

Daily Echo:

The owner of the units, Steve Parsons, a local farmer and businessman, told the Daily Echo: "There were some men working late and they raised the alarm.

"At the end of the day nobody was hurt. That is the main thing."

The cause of the fire is being investigated. The area has been cordoned off and the police are guarding the scene.

Fire investigators were due to start this work this afternoon.

The crews called out were from Wickham, Droxford, Bishops Waltham, Fareham, Cosham, Havant, Eastleigh, Botley, Lyndhurst, Alton, Romsey, Hightown, Southsea, Petersfield, Portchester and Beaulieu.