A STAGGERING £90,000 in cash was reportedly found under a bed at a derelict property in Christchurch – the day before firefighters torched the site during a training exercise.

Firefighters discovered a “large amount of money” at a bungalow in Strete Mount, a former residential complex for elderly people, on Monday, March 17.

They were preparing the premises, which has been empty for around 18 months, for a training drill in which various items of furniture were set alight.

The hidden bounty was handed over to the police. Officers are now investigating to establish how the money got there and who it belongs to.

A source, who was involved in the drill and asked not to be named, said: “They found the money under the bed when they were preparing the area. There was £90,000 in cash.

“We were all like ‘wow’. It was a jaw-dropping moment when they found it.

“Then we were all in fantasy land trying to think up how it got there.”

Craig Baker, area manager at Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed money had been found at the property the day before the exercise took place, adding: “This was handed over to Dorset Police and the housing association was notified immediately.”

Strete Mount, which consists of 46 bungalows, is owned by the Sovereign Housing.

A Sovereign Housing spokesman said: “Some basic furniture had been left in the bungalow and when the fire service dismantled this ahead of the exercise, they discovered the money and handed it over to the police."

“We will support the police in their efforts to establish where the money came from and who it belongs to.”

A Dorset Police spokesman confirmed a “large amount of money” had been found at the premises.

He said: “We have retrieved a large amount of money found by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service at a property at Bingham Road on Monday, March 16.

“Officers are currently investigating the circumstances in which it came to be there.”

Cllr David Jones, county councillor for Burton and Grange, said: he was shocked to hear of the dramatic discovery.

“I am very surprised indeed,” he said. “I have never heard of anything like it around here before.”

The Sovereign Housing spokesman said that following the training exercise the homes at Strete Mount have been boarded-up to make them safe. The housing association is currently consulting with the local community over plans to demolish the bungalows and build a new residential complex on the site.