POLICE chiefs have launched an investigation after a Southampton business was destroyed by what witnesses described as a "ball of flames".

Crews from five fire stations tackled the early morning blaze at Solent Sheds in Calmore, which burned for almost three hours.

But bosses at Hampshire Constabulary have been unable to confirm exactly what started the fire at 5.36am on Thursday morning, despite a specialist Arson Task Force assessing the scene.

No-one was injured in the incident.

Now, just hours after the event, one concerned local has started a fundraising page to help owner Leeroy Coombs get back on his feet - with fellow neighbours even offering to help to rebuild the Salisbury Road base.

With a goal of £1,000 set, Waterside resident Daniel Rushmer says he wants to "help a company that has been helping people for years".

The storage warehouse, a cottage and three vehicles on site including a car and a caravan had all caught fire.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue crews from Redbridge, St Mary's, Totton, Romsey and Eastleigh were called to the scene and closed the road.

Business owner Leeroy said: "What can I say?

"The only thing I can tell you is that a jogger went past at 5'o'clock this morning and it was all fine and by 6 o'clock it was all on fire."

One man witnessed the blaze on his way to work early that morning.

Jordan Saint of Totton was on his way to his workplace, Romsey Rapids, when he saw the business on fire.

He said: "At 5.30am this morning I was travelling to work and saw from Calmore Roundabout a cloud of smoke, because of this I slowed right down in case of any cars on fire only to be confronted by a ball of flames coming out of the Solent Sheds warehouse.

"I pulled over in a bus stop just up the road and called 999 as it was already out of control. Someone had already called and engines were on their way.

"As I pulled over, a person from another side of the road ran across towards the house that connects on to the warehouse, but I never spoke to them and they then crossed back over the road to safety.

"Five minutes later the first engines turned up followed closely by others.

"Myself and two others tried to direct cars on a safe route out of the area and proceeded to ensure no one else came close to the area."

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue statement says: "The electricity to the property was isolated due to arcing electrical cables, with crews also aware of gas canisters involved in the fire.

"The scene was handed over to police who will be investigating alongside the HFRS Arson Task Force."

A spokesperson from Hampshire Constabulary said: "We were called by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service at 5.36am alerting us to a fire at Solent Sheds on Salisbury Road.

"Solent Sheds, an adjacent cottage and three vehicles including a caravan had caught fire.

"Salisbury Road was closed for some time to enable the Fire service to deal with the incident.

"No one has been reported as injured."

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and quote 44190010847.