POLICE in Southampton are investigating the cause of a car fire that spread to a building housing eight commercial units.

Crews from five fire stations - Redbridge, Romsey, St Mary's, Eastleigh and Hightown - dashed to the scene at First Avenue, Millbrook, after the blaze broke out shortly in the early hours.

The fire started at Duda Garage, opposite the Motofax complex, just after 2am.

Neighbouring buildings affected by smoke and water damage included a centre run by Southampton Engineering Training Association (SETA).

Staff said part of the part of the building was flooded to a depth of three or four inches following the firefighting operation.

They were alerted at 6am today and launched a major clear-up operation, cleaning the floors and opening all the windows to ventilate the building and disperse the smell of smoke.

Managing director Julie Gough said the centre was likely to be "severely affected" for the rest of the week.

She added: "I was the second member of staff to be notified. When I got here it was pitch black and the floor was underwater - it was devastating.

"But the offices at the front of the building are pretty much OK, so it could have been worse."

The garage behind SETA has been cordoned off by police investigating the cause of the blaze. The owner is understood to be on holiday.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said the garage was badly damaged by fire and neighbouring units were affected by water damage.

He added: "Fourteen sets of breathing apparatus, two jets and two hose reels were used to extinguish the blaze.

"Crews liaised with the Environment Agency and Southern Water throughout, with the police due to attend the scene to investigate the cause.

"The stop message came through at 6.56am, with crews returning to their stations shortly after."