A fire has broken out on the construction site of Multi Development’s Southgate scheme in Bath.

The fire started during asphalting in Block B of the scheme, according to the developer.

Witnesses heard explosions and saw flames shooting 50 ft into the air, the Bath Chronicle reported.

Shops in the surrounding area, including a Marks & Spencer store, have been evacuated.

A Multi Development spokesman said: “The site and surrounding streets have been evacuated and the Fire and Rescue service are attending and fighting the fire currently. No injuries have been reported at this stage.”

Construction began on the£360 million Southgate scheme a year ago.

It will include 400,000 sq ft (37,160 sq m) of retail space on a 9 acre site in Bath city centre, with department store Debenhams already signed up to anchor the scheme.

H&M and Boots are also on board.

The first phase of the Southgate centre is due to open next autumn, with the whole scheme due for completion by autumn 2010.