THE CAUSE of the major blaze that ripped through a Basingstoke industrial estate may never be known.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service investigators concluded their work on Friday afternoon and said the collapse of the main building’s roof prevented them from coming to any firm conclusion.

The blaze, in the Bessemer Park building in Cranbourne, has left some of the ten businesses it houses counting the cost of the damage, including one musical instrument supplier who was burned out by the fire at Lasham in August.

The fire in Besssemer Road erupted on Wednesday night and required more than 100 firefighters from across Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey to bring it under control. The alarm was raised by a member of the public shortly after 11pm.

Residents living nearby reported the ground shaking as liquid petroleum gas cylinders ignited in a series of worrying explosions.

In swirling winds, the flames stopped mercifully short of neighbouring households in Radford Gardens, some less than a hundred metres away.

As crews battled to control the blaze spreading through several business units, about 25 per cent of the roof collapsed.

Janice Clinick, of Horwood Gardens, Cranbourne, was awoken at 1.15am to the sound of explosions outside her window. She told The Gazette: “My husband and I got out of bed and saw a pall of black smoke and flames. It was really quite worrying because there are houses right next to the site.”

Julie Yates, of Radford Gardens, said she was woken by “booming bangs” and could see fire engines through the trees. She said: “We knew something serious had happened. Then I heard the explosions, which shook the ground beneath me.” No homes had to be evacuated, but residents were told to stay indoors and keep windows shut.

The building, in Bessemer Road, measures 65metres by 75metres and is divided into ten units. Five of the units inside sustained fire damage.

Fire crews, using 15 appliances and an aerial ladder platform were able to extinguish the last smouldering remains shortly before midday on Thursday.

Area manager Steve Trevethick, officer in charge, said: “On arrival, the initial crews were faced with a fully developed fire in the light industrial block which was rapidly spreading from the front to the back of the building and across to other industrial units, with a large amount of smoke issuing.

“The building had partially collapsed. There were also several large explosions involving LPG cylinders. Due to the swift, coordinated approach of crews we were able to prevent the fire spreading to further adjoining units and businesses.”

Among business people affected was Malcolm Tuck, owner of Home Discount Supplies, a business supplying fascias, soffits and other uPVC items. He said: “Our part of the site has not been affected badly but there is superficial damage to plenty of others. We are lucky the wind was blowing the other way.”

Other businesses on the site include the Ready Made Picture Company and Rhema Textile Services.

Stewart Adamson, a group commander based in Eastleigh, praised crews for their response in the face of strong winds and said if water sprinklers had been installed the fire would have been suppressed quickly.