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Southampton vs Preston called off as St Mary's is evacuated after huge fire

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A HUGE FIRE has caused Southampton’s game with Preston to be postponed less than four hours before kick off.

The Saints were due to be in Championship action on the South Coast against Ryan Lowe’s side at 7.45pm tonight before the massive blaze broke out near the ground this afternoon.

Black smoke began engulfing the city just hours before the game was due to take place

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Black smoke began engulfing the city just hours before the game was due to take placeCredit: X
A huge fire near to Southampton's home forced their stadium to be evacuated

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A huge fire near to Southampton’s home forced their stadium to be evacuatedCredit: Simon Jones
St Mary's stadium was left engulfed in smoke after a fire broke out

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St Mary’s stadium was left engulfed in smoke after a fire broke outCredit: Simon Jones
Firefighters tackle the blaze, with 18 engines rushing to the scene

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Firefighters tackle the blaze, with 18 engines rushing to the scene
The blaze was at a factory on the industrial estate next to the stadium

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The blaze was at a factory on the industrial estate next to the stadiumCredit: Sun
Brave firefighters raced to the scene to battle the blaze after being alerted at 1:05pm

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Brave firefighters raced to the scene to battle the blaze after being alerted at 1:05pmCredit: Simon Jones
Police cordoned off the area, with the game now off

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Police cordoned off the area, with the game now offCredit: Rex

Southampton’s stadium had to be evacuated after a huge fire raged near it as St Mary’s became covered in thick black cloud after flames engulfed a factory on an industrial estate next door.

Emergency services raced to the blaze and quickly set-up a cordon around the fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Dramatic video footage revealed how brave firefighters battled the flames with hoses as smoke rose high into the air.

An incredible fireball soared above St Mary’s and the surrounding area before a loud speaker was heard telling staff to evacuate the 32,000-capacity stadium immediately.

A statement from the fire service at 1.50pm then announced they had received a the call at 1.05pm to attend the fire in Marine Parade, which was affecting industrial units near St Mary’s football stadium.

They said eight fire engines, two aerial ladder platforms and other specialist vehicles were on the scene.

People in the area were advised to keep windows and doors closed due to the amount of smoke.

Some nearby roads were closed as people were also urged to avoid the area to allow movements of emergency vehicles.

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A spokesperson for the service then provided an update at 2.24pm and revealed that “additional fire engines are now heading to the scene to make it up to 18” before adding that the fire now involved four industrial units.

The EFL then announced that they were “closely monitoring” the situation as the scheduled kick-off approached with firefighters still battling the blaze, placing the match in serious doubt.

It was then confirmed at 4pm that the match had been postponed.

A statement from the club said: “Southampton Football Club regrets to announce that tonight’s Sky Bet Championship match against Preston North End has been postponed.

“The decision was made after consultation with the local authorities and emergency services after a major fire broke out in a building next to the St Mary’s Stadium site earlier today.

“The incident has caused significant disruption in the area with road closures around the stadium still in place as fire crews continue to deal with the situation.”

The Saints added: “We are grateful for the cooperation of Preston and the EFL, and while we appreciate the disappointment fans may feel, we hope they will understand the need to put the safety of supporters and staff of both clubs first.

“The game will be postponed to a new date, which will be announced in due course, and all tickets for tonight’s match will be valid for the rearranged fixture.”

Thousands of spectators were due to attend the Championship match

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Thousands of spectators were due to attend the Championship matchCredit: Rex
The fire brigade provided regular updates throughout the afternoon as they fought the blaze

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The fire brigade provided regular updates throughout the afternoon as they fought the blazeCredit: Simon Jones

Preston then released their own statement as they announced they were looking at potentially compensating those supporters who had made the 247-mile trip to the South Coast.

It read: “Preston North End’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Southampton has been postponed as a result of health and safety concerns following a fire nearby St Mary’s Stadium.

“The EFL will be in discussions with both clubs to determine a suitable date to reschedule the fixture and details for this will be announced in due course.

“The club would like to thank supporters who have made the long journey to support the team and wish everyone a safe journey home.

“An announcement will be made on Thursday regarding any potential compensation arrangements for travelling fans.”

Russell Martin’s Saints are currently fourth in the Championship, eight points behind second-placed Ipswich Town, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot behind leaders Leicester.

Meanwhile, Preston are chasing a spot in the play-offs.

They are currently four points off the top six having played a game less than sixth-placed Hull City.

Smoke could be seen for miles around

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Smoke could be seen for miles aroundCredit: Rex
The game was eventually called off at 4pm

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The game was eventually called off at 4pmCredit: Simon Jones
Preston fans that had travelled to the game may yet receive some compensation

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Preston fans that had travelled to the game may yet receive some compensationCredit: Getty
Russell Martin's Southampton are chasing automatic promotion from the Championship

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Russell Martin’s Southampton are chasing automatic promotion from the ChampionshipCredit: Getty
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