DETECTIVES have now launched an arson inquiry following this morning's blaze outside a Southampton nightclub that forced residents to flee their homes.
As reported earlier, people living in a block of flats close to The Sobar had to be evacuated as fire threatened to engulf their property.
Around 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which officers think was started deliberately in a skip in Bevois Valley Road at around 3am and quickly spread to the nearby five-storey building close to the Aldi supermarket.
The cause is being investigated with an arson team on site and police cordoning off the area.
A discarded petrol can was also seen in the road.
Appliances attended from St Mary's, Redbridge, Hightown and Eastleigh and extinguished the flames using four jets and fans for smoke clearance, while the aerial ladder platform also attended from St Mary's.
Bevois Valley Road was closed in both directions but reopened at around 4.30am.
All residents have returned to their homes and there were no injuries.
The rear of The Sobar, which was closed at the time the fire started, remains sealed off while detectives carry out their enquires this afternoon.
Detective Constable Steve Thomas, from Southampton CID, said: “We're in the early stages of our investigation but at this time we believe the fire was caused deliberately.
“This was a large fire and we received many calls at the time from members of the public.
“Fortunately the bar was closed at the time of the fire and no-one was injured, but the circumstances could have been much worse.”