A “RECKLESSLY discarded” cigarette was the most likely cause of a fire that destroyed more than 80 cars at a Hampshire musical festival, investigators have concluded.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service yesterday revealed the findings of a probe into the blaze that took hold at BoomTown Fair near Winchester.

The fire, in the west car park at the Matterley Estate, began just after 4pm on Friday with more than 30 firefighters from across the county tackling the flames.

Officer in command, watch manager Mark Compton from Winchester fire station, told the Daily Echo it was the actions of just four firefighters – the first on scene – who managed to stop it spreading to the nearby luxury Boomtique camping site.

About 100 cars were either destroyed or damaged.

Last night Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Steve Foye said: “This devastating fire shows the danger and impact of discarding lit cigarettes.

“In the summer a fire like this is more likely to take hold quickly and can grow out of control in minutes.

“Smokers should always ensure that cigarettes or cigars are fully extinguished and disposed of properly, and under no circumstances left unattended.

“Not only can they cause damage to property and our environment but they can put people’s lives at risk.”

He went on to say he was extremely proud of the bravery and professionalism of the firefighters who battled the flames to get the rapidly growing blaze under control.

Vehicles and debris are set to be moved by insurers from tonight.

Event bosses were yesterday helping scores of people whose vehicles were destroyed in the blaze to get home.

The festival laid on internet access and phone lines so owners could contact their insurance companies and organise transport.

BoomTown bosses were also working with coach partner National Express to offer people travel options and laying on extra shuttle buses to Winchester railway station.

THERE were 186 crimes reported at BoomTown Fair this year, compared to 337 last year.

Almost £79,000 of drugs were seized, including £55,000 worth left in amnesty bins. In 2015 a combined worth of £65,000 was seized.

Three assaults, two sexual offences and one robbery were reported this year, compared to six assaults, three robberies and two sexual offences last year.

Thefts from tents was “significantly” down, Hampshire police said, with 21 reported this year compared to 100 in 2015.

Fourteen pick-pocket type offences were reported, up from nine last year.

There was one theft from a motor vehicle.

Superintendent James Fulton said: “Overall this has been another highly successful and well run weekend.

“The proactive and reactive drugs operation remains very effective with a good number of arrests for possession with intent to supply both Class A drugs and new psychoactive substances.”