A BLAZE which ripped through an industrial unit in east Dorset was caused by an electrical fault.

The emergency services were called to the Ferndown Industrial Estate at around 5.30pm yesterday.

People living close by reported hearing loud explosions and said they could see thick black smoke.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Dorset Police were sent to the scene and firefighters were set to stay on the site until late into the night.

Several ambulance units, including incident support vehicles, also arrived at the estate, alongside the Red Cross volunteer support team.

It is thought that firefighters initially fought the flames inside the building, before explosions caused them to withdraw to outside the factory.

A police spokesman said officers were called at 5.40pm to the Metal Finishings building on Haviland Road to help at the scene.

The road was closed at its junction with Cobham Road.

Speaking at the scene at around 8.30pm, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Colin Chapman said: "It's quite a severe fire in an industrial unit, involving electro-metal plating.

"We've had about 60 firefighters in total.

"We have got a lot of people down on site at the moment.

"It was a fantastic job by the crews who were here initially, they managed to contain the fire to the unit involved.

"The next stage is to put a foam blanket on what remains of the fire to continue to protect the adjacent premises and finally extinguish what has been a complicated fire to fight."

He confirmed that the building was empty at the time of the fire.

The police spokesman said officers had been informing neighbours to keep their windows closed.

Multiple appliances, including the aerial ladder, were sent to the scene. Some left as the fire was brought under control.

Representatives from the gas and electric companies and the Environment Agency were also sent to the scene.

A fire investigation is set to be carried out in the morning.

By 11pm on Saturday just one pump remained on the scene.

In all, 12 fire appliances from across the county were sent to incident at the height of the blaze.

A further 12 were moved around the county to cover for those at Ferndown.