UPDATE: Manhunt Launched For Burgess Road Arsonists

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Santander bank, which is situated on the edge of Highfield Campus on Burgess Road mysteriously caught fire last night.

The bank, which is situated alongside other student-aimed businesses like Barclays, Costa and Pret, has now been confirmed as being on fire.

The facilities are part of the University-owned Gower Building, which also houses a number of students in the flats above.

The damage sustained to Gower Building as a result of the fire (Credit: Aimee Orchel)

Emergency services are said to have been called at 2:30am, with fire crews from St Mary’s, Redbridge and Eastleigh all battling the blaze until just after 4am.

It has now been confirmed that the blaze started at one of the Santander cash machines before spreading to the bank itself.

A University of Southampton spokesperson told Wessex Scene:

The police are investigating a fire at a bank branch in one of our buildings.

All affected students evacuated the building safely and returned to their accommodation once Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was safe to do so.

We are assisting the police with their investigation and are grateful to the emergency services for dealing with the incident so quickly.

Indeed, affected students have been quick to praise the swift response of the University security team, with one saying:

All the Gower residents were taken over to a lecture theatre in B32.

Legit kudos to the security team for managing this one. They let a couple of us living in the flats above to go get emergency meds and my wheelchair.

We had both security and student life there, who were wonderful as always.

Luckily, nobody is reported to have sustained any injuries.

However, the cause of the fire is being treated as suspicious, with investigations ongoing.

 

UPDATE: 

An urgent investigation has been launched into the extensive fire that Wessex Scene first reported on yesterday.

In what police now believe was a failed break-in attempt, three men exited a vehicle, likely an Audi or BMW, by Santander’s Gower Building branch, and set fire to the external Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

After starting the fire, all three men returned to the car and drove in the direction of University Road.

Police have reported that the fire caused extensive damage to the ATM, and Wessex Scene has since learned that students living in the Gower residency halls have been warned about possible smell and smoke from the incident. Damage has also been reported inside the bank.

During the incident in the early hours of Monday, the Southampton students living above the bank were forced to evacuate after the smoke alarm system was set off.

A police spokesperson told the Daily Echo:

We are investigating after an ATM at the Santander bank in Burgess Road, Southampton was set alight around 2.15am today (January 20). A car, believed to be an Audi or BMW, pulled up outside the bank and three men got out of the vehicle. After the fire was started, the three men returned to the vehicle, leaving the scene in the direction of University Road.

Those with information are advised to call 101, the police non-emergency line, quoting the case number 44200023203. They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Concerned students living in or around the Gower Building can email halls@soton.ac.uk or call Glen Eyre reception on 02380 595975.

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Wessex Scene Editor // meme queen // fan of chocolate digestives // @colombochar on Twitter.

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