Artists and business owners have spoken of their grief after a huge blaze tore through studios and offices.

Twelve fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms were needed to tackle a large fire which broke out around 6pm on Saturday (7) at St Michael’s Trading Estate in Bridport.

Fire crews from Bridport, Beaminster, Yeovil, Lyme Regis, Axminster, Maiden Newton, Dorchester, Seaton, Weymouth, Honiton and Westbourne all attended the blaze. The fire is believed to have started on the third floor of St Michael’s studios – which contains a number of artists’ studios and offices.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service station manager, Sean Blizzard said firefighters worked tirelessly through the night to bring the fire under control. They remained at the scene on Sunday morning, damping down hot spots to ensure the fire did not reignite.

Mr Blizzard said the third floor had been completely destroyed but due to the hard work of fire crews, it was hoped the first and ground floors remained “relatively intact”.

He added tenants were not able to access the building until a structural engineer had assessed the site as the roof structure had fallen inwards.

“Very little of the roof structure has fallen off which means all of its weight is now resting on the first floor ceiling so there is a risk of building collapse,” he said.

The alarm was raised by a commercial fire alarm which Mr Blizzard said allowed firefighters to reach the scene quicker than if found by an individual. He urged people to check their fire alarms.

Artist Caroline Ireland who has rented a studio on the second floor for 16 years, said the fire was “heartbreaking”.

“When we got here the fire brigade was already here. I could see huge flames coming up from the back of the roof.

She added first one dormer window collapsed and then another before the whole roof fell in.

“We all absolutely love the building.

“It’s devastating. I’m not sure how much I’ve lost personally but the people above have lost everything. It’s our life’s work in those studios – they’re like our homes. I feel kind of numb. It’s like a bereavement.”

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, whose third-floor office was destroyed, said he was called by a fellow tenant when the fire began.

“We left home and as we were coming out of East Street and saw the fire engines steaming past. When we got here there was a lot of smoke. We saw the fire tear it down. We just had to watch as the whole thing caved in.”

Mr Gordon-Farleigh, who is the director of Stir Magazine, said they had lost around 4,000 magazine and five years worth of publishing archives in the fire.

He said he would now be reaching out to anyone who may have old copies of the magazine to try and rebuild their archive.

“It would be great to see them again,” he said.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but an investigation is ongoing.