FIREFIGHTERS have been hailed the ‘heroes of Whitchurch’ as they stopped a van fire from spreading to a nearby petrol station.

On Saturday July 1 at 3:30pm, a fire started in a van in Church Street, Whitchurch that damaged a gym, workshop, and garden centre.

The building that the business was in was split into three parts, each containing one of the affected businesses and the building suffered partial fire and smoke damage.

The vehicle was completely destroyed in the fire. No one was injured.

The fire was about 30 feet from the Murco petrol station in Church Street, where there were 40,000 litres of fuel on the premises.

The owner of the petrol station, Zulfiqar Ali, said: “The fire was only about 30 feet from the petrol station, and the van went up in smoke very quickly, and the flames quickly jumped to the roof of the nearby building.

"It was quite scary, my legs were shaking, I could see my whole livelihood going up in smoke.

“If it had reached the tanks of petrol, there would have been a massive blast.

"There were 25,000 litres of petrol and 15,000 litres of diesel in there at the time, and there would have been a massive blast if the flames had met the vapours.”

The fire was spotted by a firefighter who had come into the shop to buy something. He saw the fire through the back door inside the petrol station.

After that, he ran back to the fire station and within five minutes, had fire engines at the scene.

Mr Ali continued: “They deserve an award for what they did, they are the heroes of Whitchurch.

"There are houses very near by the petrol station and the blast could have destroyed the area and caused a huge fire. It would have been an atrocity.

"Thank you very much to all the firefighters who came to help.”

Around 30 firefighters from five crews from Whitchurch, Overton, Sutton Scotney, Winchester, and Basingstoke attended the incident, where they used a hose reel, three jets, four sets of breathing apparatus and an Ultra-High Pressure Lance (UHPL.)