The boss of the M3 Fleet services has praised firefighters for helping to tackle the huge blaze that broke out during the early hours of Thursday morning.

The massive fire tore through the southbound Welcome Break services at about 10.30pm, with around 50 firefighters tackling the flames.

Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie said the fire has caused ‘extensive damage’ to the southbound services.

“Thankfully none of our staff or members of the public at the site have been injured,” he added.

“We are extremely grateful to the firefighters who tackled the blaze and will assist with their investigations.

Fire engulfs the southbound Fleet service station
Fire engulfs the southbound Fleet service station

“The main amenities building in Fleet South will remain closed until further notice. Fleet North is fully open.”

It is believed the fire started in KFC at the services and a junction of the M3 was closed in both directions overnight as there was smoke billowing across the road.

Firefighters from across Hampshire and Surrey tackled the huge blaze

Around 10 fire engines and seven water carriers were sent from across Hampshire and Surrey to the blaze.

It was brought under control by 2.30am but it was still burning.

One eyewitness said the fire started from KFC as a machine exploded.

“The flames spread very quickly,” they added. “I have never seen anything like it.”

One lane remained closed southbound between junction 4a ( Farnborough ) and junction 5 (Hook) as of 7am as crews dampened down the scene.

Highways England said the lane is expected to reopen on Thursday morning.