Firefighters today tackled a roof blaze at Emsworth Sailing Club which broke out after a car hit the building at an estimated 60-70mph.
A man was rescued uninjured from the vehicle, which smashed a huge hole in the wall of the club in the early-morning drama.
But Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said flames from the car, which was left embedded in the building, had ignited the roof of the building.
Eyewitnesses said that they had heard what appeared to have been an explosion as flames and dense smoke erupted from the sailing club.
Fire crews from Havant, Cosham, Hayling Island and Horndean were called to the club in Bath Road, Emsworth, at 6.36am after a Volvo crashed into the building.
The vehicle is believed to have been travelling at around 60-70mph when it hit the wall of the club, smashing a hole through it.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue said: ‘We were called to Emsworth Sailing Club after a vehicle crashed into the building,
‘The driver was rescued from the car and wasn’t hurt.
‘A fire spread from the car onto the roof of the club and we have teams tackling the fire.
‘We have fire crews from Emsworth, Havant, Hayling Island, the Special Equipment Unit from Cosham, and teams from Horndean.
‘We also have also got a search and rescue team on stand-by to search the building once the fire is out.’
Eyewitness Sarah Jane Walker tweeted a dramatic picture of the blaze, saying: ‘Explosion at sailing club 6.45 emsworth. Huge ball of fire, black smoke. Family safe, but hope everyone else is too.’
Police established a cordon around the area preventing people from getting close to the building.
Fire appliances began leaving the scene at around 8am after the blaze was brought under control, with investigators moving in to determine exactly what had happened.
Last May paralympic sailor Helena Lucas officially opened the revamped sailing club, which underwent a huge £350,000 renovation.
The improvements included a new bar, training rooms, balcony and larger changing rooms.
The inside of the club was also been given a complete makeover.
Government agency Sport England provided £50,000 towards the work and the rest of the cash came from the club.
The club has more than 1,150 members.
It was originally set up as a bathing establishment around 1800.
During the Victorian era sailing was adopted at the site leading to Emsworth Sailing Club, in its present form, being founded in 1919 by a small group of enthusiasts.