AROUND sixty firefighters battled a huge blaze that engulfed a house and barn.

People were urged to stay away from East Lulworth yesterday afternoon as 12 crews worked to extinguish the flames.

A call was made to Dorset Fire and Rescue Service at 3.55pm with reports of a fire involving the domestic property with a thatched roof and nearby stable block on Mount Pleasant.

Crews from across Dorset, including Weymouth, Poole, Wareham, Swanage, Hamworthy and Blandford rushed to the scene.

A specialist water carrier was also deployed and firefighters used breathing apparatus and hose reel jets to extinguish the blaze.

Once the stop message was received at 6.50pm, three relief engines were sent to take over.

A spokesman for the fire service said they would be on location 'for a considerable time, if not all night.'

It is thought the blaze began in the thatch of the two-storey home and firefighters, climbing the highest ladders the fire service has, used thermal imaging equipment to check for hot spots.

The entire stable block and 50 percent of the thatched roof were engulfed by flames. Fire crews said they believed the fire was started accidentally by an electrical fault in the stable block.

An eyewitness said: “There were fire engines all over this part of the village. There were five or six parked around the triangle and another four or five on the road leading up to the cottage.

“There was also a bowser and a couple of large portable holding tanks so the crews always made sure they had got plenty of water.

“The fire was in quite a remote location in terms of fire hydrants or water supplies.

“Getting water out to the location was possibly an issue.

“I couldn't see the barn very well but by the looks of it, it was completely destroyed.

“I haven't seen so many fire engines in a long time.

“I would think the cottage has been badly damaged, which is very sad for the homeowners.”

He praised firefighters for their hard work in tackling the blaze and said he believed they would remain on scene well in to the night raking the thatch.

The Red Cross support vehicle, manned by volunteers, also attended to offer support to those affected and drinks for the fire crews.

A Police and Community Support Officer was on hand to guide traffic around the area due to the number of fire engines.

No one was injured in the blaze.