SHOCKED residents in a Southampton street were awoken in the middle of the night by a “huge gunshot-like” bang caused by the explosion of a cash machine.

One resident, who lives nearby, said they felt their house shake from the explosion and described the sound as “louder than a huge firework”.

The resident also said how he ran out with an extinguisher to put out the blaze and found burning cash notes and debris scattered more than 20 metres from where the cash machine originally stood.

Now police have launched an investigation into the explosion, which is believed to have been the result of a deliberate fire and possibly an attempted cash theft.

Officers say they were called around 1.55am on Wednesday morning, following reports of an explosion near to the Best One shop on Station Road, Sholing.

One neighbour, Alan Orchard, was awoken by the noise.

He said: “It was a 10 out of 10 for how loud it was.

“I felt the whole house shake. It was louder than one of those huge fireworks.”

The 63-year-old foster carer said: “I went outside and saw the cash machine was on fire and came back out with my fire extinguisher to put it out.

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“I always said I would need the extinguisher one day,” he added.

Another neighbouring resident, who did not want to be named, said they heard a “huge bang”, while another, who was awoken by the explosion, said they initially thought it was a gunshot.

Current Mayor of Southampton and local councillor Peter Baillie, who lives nearby, also heard the bang.

He said: “I heard the bang and straight away I was awake.

“I’m pleased that no-one was hurt and the shop is okay.”

Yesterday, police cordoned off the free-standing cash machine, which is just metres from the the entrance of the Best One Shop. The shop was not affected by the incident.

An arson investigation team later arrived at the scene.

A police spokesperson said: “We were called at 1.55am on Wednesday to a report of theft of a cash from an ATM on Station Road in Sholing.

“Officers deployed to the area and found the cash machine had been damaged and the cash contents stolen.

“Several members of the public called in and reported hearing an explosion at the time of the incident.

“Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and quote 44190287362.”

A spokesperson for Cardtronics, the owners of the cash machine, described the incident as a “violent and senseless” incident.