A DEVASTATING fire that tore through a garage bought “chaos” to a Hampshire town.

More than 50 firefighters tackled a large blaze close to Hythe Pier which destroyed a garage and left a business suspending its work until the site was declared safe.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue confirmed a garage in Prospect Place, near the pier, caught fire shortly before 6am, with crews rushing to the scene to battle the flames.

The fire has forced independent vehicle repair specialists Hythe Garage to cancel its work throughout the week.

A statement released by the business thanked the emergency services “who turned out so promptly and quickly” to “secure the area and protect other parts of our lovely village”.

The statement added: “Unfortunately, many of our essential tools and equipment were caught up in the blaze which is now the subject of a fire investigation. The garage was shut at the time and nobody was hurt.

“We must suspend our work for now until the site is declared safe and we can then review our options. Of course, any work that was booked in for this week will not be carried out and for that I would like to personally apologise.”

The fire service advised the Daily Echo that it would be investigating the cause of the fire.

The Hythe Ferry, which connects villagers with Southampton, was forced to shut for over an hour as firefighters continued to damp down the blaze.

Bus company Bluestar also postponed its service through Hythe due to the fire and police cordon around the affected area.

Hythe Pier engineer David Woodhams was second to the scene of the fire after he arrived for work at 5.35am.

Mr Woodhams said: “By the time I had got to work I could see a lot of smoke and flames. I asked Rob Marsden [relief captain at the pier] whether he had contacted the fire services and he said he had. But a few moments later we called them again as the fire was intensifying.

“The crew got on the train and travelled to the boat at 5.45am, when the smoke wasn’t too thick. “The train driver wasn’t then able to drive back and pick up the passengers due to the fact that the smoke intensified.

“Two passengers walked through the smoke going towards the boat and we weren’t able to stop that from happening because we couldn’t get through the smoke. We didn’t take passengers through the smoke. The service then stopped until 7.10am.”

Locals told the Daily Echo of their “shock” and the size of the fire and how quickly it spread.

One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It was chaos around here in the morning.”

Roberta O’Hara, landlady at The Lord Nelson pub, which is just yards away from where the fire took place, called the situation “awful”.

She said: “It’s just terrible for the local business that was affected by the fire. Hythe Garage is a local company and it’s just shocking that this would happen in such a lovely village like Hythe.

“It was only yesterday that we had the successful raft race just around the corner so for this to happen is devastating.”