A pub in Hill Head that residents describe as “an anchor of the community” has been destroyed by a towering inferno.

More than 60 fire fighters were called to Hill Head Road at around 2:30am yesterday morning, February 22, after smoke and flames were seen coming from the Osborne View Hotel.

Firefighters from Dorset, Fareham, Gosport, Cosham, Portchester, Southsea, Eastleigh, Hightown, Beauleigh, Romsey and Ringwood were present at the peak of the response.

Temperature readings captured by a thermal camera recorded temperatures of 330C at the centre of the fire – with flames reaching up to 10 foot high.

Hill Head Road resident Mike Nash lives very close to the Osborne View.

He said: “We woke up in the early hours of this morning to all of the commotion.

“We were not evacuated, but the immediate neighbours next to the building were - it’s very fortunate that everyone got out of the building okay.

“I walked onto the beach at about 6 am, and the building was still burning away."

One of the reasons the watering hole is so popular because of its location right on the beach.

Mr Nash said: “The hotel is the anchor of the community.

“It has been standing since Victorian times, and has survived two world wars, being home to the special boat service during the Second World War.

“Collectively, I think there’s a real sense of grief among the community here in Hill Head.”

As the flames died down and the sun rose, the extent of the damage was laid bare - with the roof collapsed and only the shell of the building still standing.

READ MORE: Tornado warning for Hampshire issued by TORRO as rain hits

Firefighters continued to work hard throughout the day to extinguish the fire fully and make the area safe.

Fire service group manager Karl Manners, from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, told the Echo at the scene: "We are certainly going to be present here for the rest of today.

"We have just taken over from the night staff who have been tackling the blaze throughout the early hours of the morning.

"Our next procedures are to make sure that all flames have been extinguished, and the building is structurally sound. There is a potential that the gas is still live in the building.

"It’s fair to say that this is a significant fire that has devastated a really well-known and loved landmark within the area.

"There is a huge loss structurally in terms of the building, financially for the owners and also a devastating blow to the community."

Pictures by uknip.co.uk