A fire believed to have started in a freezer on a busy Saturday afternoon has gutted a Co-op store in Hampshire.

Staff called emergency crews after seeing smoke coming from a unit in the shop in Cowplain, Waterlooville, but the single storey building was soon “engulfed by fire” according to Hampshire Fire and Rescue.

Crews tackling the blaze were forced to withdraw before the flames caused the roof to collapse.

Three people were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, and one was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The blaze is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault linked to one of the store’s freezers, firefighters added.

Southern Co-operative’s chief operating officer Phil Ponsonby praised his colleagues for their swift action.

“We are very proud of the action that our colleagues in the store took to evacuate the building quickly, ensuring that no customers and colleagues were hurt. All colleagues undertake fire evacuation training and this paid off on Saturday. The store has been extensively damaged and will remain closed until further notice.

Staff will be deployed at nearby stores until the Cowplain store is reopened.