A huge cloud of black smoke was seen for miles around as a major fire broke out at a former brewery warehouse.

Twelve crews of firefighters fought the blaze at Hall & Woodhouse’s old brewery building in Blandford yesterday.

The cause is beleived to be accidental.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to Bournemouth Road in Blandford at just before 2.30pm where an empty warehouse undergoing demolition was found to be well alight.

Although the building is next to the Hall & Woodhouse brewery, the main site was said to be not involved in the blaze.

It is understood the fire took hold very quickly. No-one was injured.

Tony Brighton, who lives opposite, said: “As I stepped out of the back door I became aware of huge clouds of black smoke.

“I rushed upstairs to have a look out of the window and realised it was a big fire.”

Residents were warned to keep doors and windows closed due to “significant amounts of smoke”.

Later in the afternoon, some residents living near the site had to be evacuated from their homes due to fears of an explosion.

The local electricity supply was also affected with homes and businesses plunged into darkness.

Police closed roads in the area to allow firefighters to work safely and to protect the public. It disrupted bus services and there were reports of slow traffic on the A354 Blandford bypass.

Numerous pictures were posted on social media showing the huge plumes of black smoke.

Twelve fire crews from stations across north and east Dorset were sent to the scene.

Residents were urged to keep doors and windows closed as a precaution due to 'significant amounts of thick smoke'. 

Dorset Police has closed roads in the immediate vicinity, and we are likely to be on scene for some time.”

Brewery boss Anthony Woodhouse said: “The fire appears to be confined to the warehouse.

“It’s the old brewhouse, which we sold to the Homes and Communities Agency.

“It is a big part of our history, however.”

Mr Woodhouse said staff were alerted to the blaze by alarms and that everyone was safe.

“The fire brigade, as ever, have done a completely fabulous job and were here very promptly,” Mr Woodhouse added.

Yeseterday, Tom Hustler, of the Homes and Communities Agency, said that contractors were at the site carrying out preparation works prior to a planned demolition of part of the site.

He added: "There is no evidence to suggest the presence of the contractors caused the fire."

"We haven't started demolition work yet as we are awaiting planning permission."

He explained nobody had been injured in the blaze and firefighters had done "a great job getting the fire under control".

He added: "We will aim to return to the site tomorrow (today) to understand what caused the fire."

Dorset & Wilshire Fire and Rescue Service remain at the scene today.

By 8am this morning, the attendance was scaled back to three crews and from 9am onwards, it is anticipated to have two crews and an aerial ladder platform there to continue damping down and deal with hotspots.

Area Manager Byron Standen said: “Our thanks go to the local community for their patience yesterday, when the smoke plume was particularly intense.

"It is now safe to open doors and windows in the vicinity of the fire. We are also grateful to the Hall & Woodhouse management, who provided refreshments to our firefighters and also ensured they had the right people on site to give us the information and guidance needed to bring this incident to a conclusion. We will remain on site this morning to ensure that the fire is fully extinguished.”

Investigations into the exact cause of the fire continue, but it is believed to have started accidentally.

In a statement this evening (Wednesday) Hall & Woodhouse said: "The fire that started yesterday in an empty warehouse on the Old Brewery site has been contained by the fire service.  Remaining fire crews continue to be on site dousing down.

"The Old Brewery site was sold by Hall & Woodhouse in January 2018 and all the fire damaged buildings were due for demolition. The adjacent Hall & Woodhouse offices, Visitor Centre and New Brewery were unaffected by the fire.

"Therefore, the company wishes to reassure customers that it is very much ‘business as usual’ and all deliveries have continued from the brewery as usual."

Anthony Woodhouse, Managing Director at Hall & Woodhouse said: “I’d like to personally thank all the emergency services who were on site quickly and worked tirelessly through the night to stop the fire from spreading.

"The evacuation of our team was safe and efficient and thankfully nothing has affected the normal operations of the business.”