FIRE crews donned protective clothing after being called to a Southampton street following the discovery of a man’s body.

Part of Stafford Road in Shirley was closed to traffic and residents were prevented from walking along one side of the street as the drama unfolded.

Police investigating the man’s death are treating it as a suspected suicide.

He is understood to have suffocated and fire crews were called to the first floor flat amid fears that hazardous materials were present.

The windows were opened to ventilate the property, sparking speculation that gas might have been involved.

Last night police were still trying to trace the man’s relatives and said they were unable to release any further information about his death.

Cristina Fernandes’s house is on the same side of the road as the flat where the body was found.

But Cristina, 24, was told to walk along the other side of the street to reach her home after returning from a shopping expedition yesterday morning.

“There seemed to be something serious going on but they told me there was no risk to me,” she said.

Another man was visiting his parents when he was caught up in the drama.

He said he was stopped from approaching the front of the house, which meant he had to use a back alley to reach the property.

Five fire crews from three stations – Cosham, Redbridge and St Mary’s – spent an hour at the scene. The road was later reopened.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “There was a suggestion that hazardous materials might be involved and we sent Hazmat crews to assist the police.”

A police spokesman confirmed that the man’s death was not being treated as suspicious.