AN ARSON probe has been launched after a fire ripped through a former social club in Southampton.

More than 70 firefighters rushed to tackle the blaze in a derelict building in Victors Street.

The fire at the former Shirley Working Men’s Club threatened to engulf neighbouring buildings.

Hampshire police have now confirmed an arson investigation is underway following the incident on Monday night.

With 14 fire engines on the scene, crews from across the county were hampered by strong winds which fanned the flames and sent clouds of thick smoke drifting across the area.

People were urged to avoid the area as the emergency services rushed to the old , and locals were told to keep their doors and windows shut because of the smoke.

Firefighters remained on the scene yesterday investigating the cause of the fire which broke out at around 6pm.

Streets in the centre of Shirley echoed to the sound of sirens as the first firefighters on the scene were joined by colleagues from as far afield as Fareham, plus police office and ambulance crews.

No-one was hurt but the building was reduced to a charred ruin.

A police spokesperson said: “This is an arson investigation. I can confirm we are investigating the cause of a fire at the former Shirley Working Men’s Club on Victor Street yesterday evening (February 10). Anyone with information can call 101, quoting 44200052374. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”