POLICE have launched an arson probe after a Hampshire business was wrecked in a huge fireball.

The three-hour inferno at Solent Sheds in Salisbury Road, Totton, destroyed a timber-framed warehouse which was being used for manufacture and storage.

Now police investigating the cause of the blaze have revealed it is being treated as arson.

Last night it also emerged that residents worried about crime in the town are planning to stage a public meeting at AFC Totton, which is only a few hundred yards from the scene of the incident.

Five fire crews from Redbridge, St Mary’s, Totton, Romsey and Eastleigh were called to Solent Sheds just after 5.30am a week ago today.

The emergency services cordoned off the scene and closed the road.

Speaking at the time business owner Lee-Roy Coombs, 43, said: “A jogger went past at 5am and it was all fine. By 6am it was all on fire.”

Romsey Rapids employee Jordan Smith, of Totton, was on his way to work when he noticed the blaze.

He said: “From the Calmore roundabout I could see a cloud of smoke. I slowed right down in case any cars were on fire, only to be confronted by a ball of flame coming out of the Solent Sheds warehouse.

“I pulled over in a bus stop and called 999 as the fire was already out of control.

“I and two others tried to direct cars on a safe route out of the area and proceeded to ensure no-one else came close.”

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) spokesman added: “The electricity to the property was isolated due to arcing electrical cables, with crews also aware of gas canisters involved in the fire.

“The scene was handed over to police who will be investigating alongside the HFRS Arson Task Force.”

Now Hampshire Constabulary have confirmed the fire is being treated as arson. A police spokesman said the inquiry into the incident was “ongoing”.

The public meeting, arranged before the blaze, will be held in the main hall at AFC Totton on February 7 at 7pm.

Organised by Totton councillor Neville Penman, it will be attended by the town council chairman, Cllr Sam Churn, and two police officers, Inspector Helen Andrews and PC Nikki Grindley.

Cllr Penman said: “This will be an opportunity for residents to discuss crime in the area with local law enforcement and discover what is being done to combat issues in our neighbourhood.”

Anyone with information about the fire can call Hampshire police on 101, quoting reference number 44190010847.