A HAMPSHIRE pensioner has been detained under the Mental Health Act on suspicion of arson after his house was damaged by fire.

The 82-year-old man was taken away by police following the blaze at a chalet bungalow in Wavendon Avenue, Barton on Sea.

Firefighters entered the property and carried out a search amid fears that his wife was inside.

Paramedics were also called to the scene but were stood down after it became clear that the bungalow was empty.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said crews from Beaulieu and New Milton were joined by colleagues from Dorset.

A police spokesman added: "The incident is being treated as arson and an 82-year-old man has been detained under the Mental Health Act."

Neighbours said an elderly woman living at the property suffered from ill-health had recently moved out to give her husband a break from looking after her.

The blaze, which broke out at 5.30am on Tuesday, damaged the roof of the property.

Referring to the arrival of the emergency services one resident is reported to have said: "There was a quite a concern to establish that nobody was in the property."

Other neighbours said they slept through the drama and awoke to find part of the street cordoned off.