A VAN was left in ruin following a blaze late at night which required a fast response from firefighters.

Neighbours have spoken of their shock after an Openreach vehicle parked outside a former telephone exchange in Long Copse, Holbury, burst into flames.

The intense heat smashed one of the windows at the old exchange and part of the two-storey building began to smoulder.

Posting on social media Hardley firefighters said flames were "towering" towards nearby trees and threatening to spread to nearby buildings.

They added that firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hosereel jet to bring the flames under control and prevent the blaze spreading.

The fire broke out in the early hours of yesterday but police say it is not being treated as arson.

One Long Copse resident said: "I heard three loud pops and what sounded like very loud fireworks. I looked out of my window and saw the van was well alight. The situation became very serious very quickly so I dialled 999.

"The fire brigade arrived within about seven minutes, maybe sooner, and were here a good hour. They did a superb job.

"I never thought there was any danger of the fire spreading to my home but it was close enough."

Another neighbour added: "I heard the sound of something blowing up, which might have been the vehicle's battery. The van was on fire and the flames were having a go at a neighbouring tree.

"The van had probably been parked there since 5.30pm-6pm, so something must have been simmering for quite a while."

The window damaged by the intense heat was later boarded up.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) said police had been told about the incident.

A police spokesman added: "We were called by HFRS at 1.49am following a vehicle fire at Long Copse, Holbury. This was reported to us for our awareness and there was no requirement for police to attend."

An Openreach spokesperson said: “One vehicle was badly damaged as was a window in our exchange building but fortunately none of our people was hurt."


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