STAFF and patients have been evacuated from a Hampshire hospital after a fire broke out.

The blaze at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester is understood to have started in a building housing an MRI and a CT scanner at about 4pm.

Ten fire engines and three vehicles with aerial ladder platforms are on the scene.

The hospital is reported to be well alight but there are no casualties, a hospital spokesman said.

Patients are being evacuated to other parts of the hospital. The accident and emergency department has been closed to ambulances.

The MRI and CT unit is some way away from the main wards.

Emergency services have closed Romsey Road, a major route through the city centre, causing traffic to grind to a halt.

Dr Chris Gordon, acting chief executive of the trust that runs the hospital, said: "My understanding is that we've had a fire in the MRI and CT scanner room and maybe in the roof of the building.

"We have evacuated the X-ray department, accident and emergency and five operating theatres and the intensive care units.

"There was surgery going on at the time and those patients have also had to be evacuated.

"As far as I know no one has been injured and no one has come to harm as a consequence of that evacuation."

Incident commander for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Dan Tasker said: “When we arrived we found a very large and developing fire in the MRI unit. It was well established and starting to spread.

“The hospital did a wonderful job in evacuating patients which allowed us to deal with the fire very, very quickly.

“I can’t the praise the crews enough for the work they’ve done this evening.

“We've attacked the fire now from all four sides and we are closing in and making sure every part is extinguished.

“Given its ferocity we are going to be here for another three or four hours yet.

“We take all types of fires seriously, but this is particularly serious.”

Staff at Southampton General Hospital have been put on standby in case they are needed to treat any injuries.