HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused when a fire ripped through a warehouse in Farnborough in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Up to 80 firefighters spent more than six hours tackling the blaze at SSS Sandpiper in Invincible Road.

They were hampered by the choking smoke given off by carpets stored in the warehouse.

Damage is expected to be about £500,000 and it is feared the badly damaged building will have to be pulled down.

It is unclear what caused the fire and a police spokesman said: "We are not yet in a position to say that the incident is being treated as suspicious but we are certainly investigating it."

Mike Gates, a spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We received the call to the industrial estate just after midnight and by the time we got there the building was well alight.

"We had a total of 14 appliances, aerial ladders and other equipment on the scene.

"At the height of the fire there were around 70 to 80 fire-fighters at the scene.

"It is not yet clear where or how the fire started and we will only be able to get this information once the building is made safe to investigate.

"It is also not clear how much damage was caused to the building and stock, but it is expected to stretch into hundreds of thousands of pounds."

He added: "I know that a delivery of carpets and other goods was made to the warehouse on Friday but we will not know how much that stock was worth until after the owners weigh up the value.

"The damage has been so extensive due to the highly flammable goods that were kept in the building."

Mike Moran, chairman of Sandpiper, said: "I am absolutely gutted, but life goes on. We are back in our premises at our retail place in Chobham and are open for business as usual.

"The building is totally gone and we will have to rebuild the premises again and carry on.

"We have a good solid business and we are not in a danger of collapsing."