Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ringwood shopping centre fire: Six shops damaged

Fire in shopping premises Image copyright Jonathan Boswell
Image caption The fire broke out shortly before 08:00 GMT

A charity shop has been destroyed and five other shops damaged in a fire thought to have been started in a wheelie bin at a shopping centre.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said 50 firefighters tackled the blaze at Meeting House Lane in Ringwood, Hampshire, shortly before 08:00 GMT.

Six shops were affected, including the Sue Ryder charity shop which was gutted. Eyewitnesses said part of the building collapsed on parked cars.

No-one was hurt.

Image caption More than 50 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze
Image caption The fire is thought to have spread from a wheelie bin to the roof of the building

Nick Lobo of Sue Ryder said the charity would try to set up a pop-up shop elsewhere in the town in the run-up to Christmas.

"This is always the busiest time of year for us. It's going to have a huge impact on our fundraising for local hospices and neurological units, " he said.

A branch of Sainsbury's was also closed as its main entrance was via Meeting House Lane.

Fire service group manager Howard Watts said it had been an "intense job" to tackle the blaze when it spread to the roof of the building.

"This was a big fire. All these buildings are connected so the challenge was to ensure it didn't spread - it could have taken out the whole of the town centre," he added.

A joint police and fire investigation is under way to establish the exact cause.

Image copyright Jonathan Boswell
Image caption Six retail premises were affected by the blaze

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