POLICE are searching for the occupants of a suspected drug factory thought to be behind a fire that tore through a home in Eastleigh.

Detectives have launched an investigation after Monday night's blaze in Barton Road.

In a statement, the police said: “We are working closely with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service as part of our enquiries to ascertain the exact circumstances of the incident and identify those who may have been residing in the property.”

READ MORE: Police investigate suspected drug factory after house fire

More than 35 firefighters from Eastleigh, St Mary’s and Redbridge battled the flames after receiving the callout at 5.51pm.

Paul Stoodley, who lives in Barton Road said: "There was thick, white smoke everywhere, the house must have been an absolute blaze.

"It's quite scary because it's not the sort of thing you expect to see down a residential street."

Jayne Ward, 53, also of Barton Road, added: "Initially there was smoke coming out of the top bedroom window and then it became very smoky very quickly.

"It all escalated really quickly, it's quite scary to see the roof come down and the whole thing was on fire in a short amount of time."

Crews left the scene at around 10.30pm, having powered off the whole road until around midnight.

Eastleigh District Commander, Chief Inspector Paul Southam, said: “There is likely to be a large police presence in the area over the next few days while officers continue their enquiries, to ascertain the exact circumstances relating to the fire – including potential drug cultivation.

He added: “We want to stress that any production of drugs is linked to hidden harm and these sites are often run by organised crime gangs, who are likely to engage in very serious violence involving weapons and also take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101.

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