A BLAZE at a Southampton grocery store is being treated as arson, police have confirmed.

The incident at the Emdads Halal Food Hall, on Derby Road, St Mary's resulted in 18 people being evacuated from their homes yesterday morning.

Residents were woken by an explosion and called the fire brigade around 4.50am, while one man living in a flat above the shop told how he was forced to jump from a first floor window to escape.

An 18-year-old man had arm burns, while another man was taken to hospital for treatment of a back injury and a three-month-old baby was checked for smoke inhalation.

Forensic investigation at the scene has continued today and police are appealing for witnesses.

Anyone with information that could assist police with their enquiries should call 101.