THIS stunning aerial photograph shows the true enormity of a blaze that destroyed a Hampshire warehouse and brought a town to a standstill.

Taken by the Hampshire Police air support unit from its plane the picture was relayed to the 125 firefighters battling the fire at the warehouse in Eastleigh.

Within minutes the towering plume of smoke had dominated the Hampshire skyline and left millions of pounds worth of damage in its wake.

Today bosses at a huge warehouse are counting the cost of the inferno that destroyed their building and tens of thousands of goods destined for the shelves of stores across the country stocking up for Christmas.

The blaze at the Eastleigh import company sent a huge tower of smoke into the sky which could be seen from 15 miles away.

It brought traffic to a standstill and sparked a warning from emergency services to hundreds of nearby residents to keep their doors and windows shut over fears the fumes could be poisonous.

The cause of the Import Services Contract Logistics (UK) Ltd based at the Tower Lane Industrial Estate is today still a mystery and its impact although enormous is still coming to light.

The huge blaze, tackled by up to 150 firefighters from all over the county yesterday, ripped through the 67,000 sq ft warehouse at ferocious speed razing it to the ground.

Inside it was packed with deliveries of Christmas tree lights, plastic dolls and wooden toys shipped in through Southampton docks from across the world all being prepared to be distributed across the country. They too were destroyed.

It is believed that hundreds of the popular Nintendo "Game Boy" games were also stored at the warehouse.

The owners of the building refused to reveal which makes of toys had been stored at the warehouse.

Police closed off Chickenhall Lane leading to the Tower Industrial estate as dozens of emergency vehicles raced to the scene of the blaze.

Hundreds of workers from nearby industrial units were also evacuated as the fire ripped through the building.

Speaking from outside the still blazing ruins of the business, company director John Eynon said it was too early to tell how much damage had been caused during the fire but that the cost would run into "many millions" of pounds.

He said: "Somebody came from the warehouse saying there was a fire. The alarms were set off and everybody ran outside.

"We have three offices in Hampshire. One in Hedge End, one in Southampton and one in Eastleigh and we will be redeploying staff as soon as we can. This is not the only building we have. It is a bad thing but it could have been a lot worse."

Around 50 workers at the warehouse fled as soon as the blaze was discovered and some were evacuated on the back of flat bed lorries. None were injured.

Firefighters today remained at the scene damping down before fire investigators can go inside and try to determine the cause from the pile of ashes, melted plastic and collapsed charred remains of the building.

The business has been based at Eastleigh for the past eight years and distributes goods from Europe, the Far East and Asia to retailers in the United Kingdom.

As well as distribution services, the company repackages imports and obtains customs clearance for its clients which include dozens of toy shops throughout the country.