The community has rallied round to support traders ‘picking up the pieces’ after a devastating fire tore through an estate.

A huge fire broke out at Dreadnought Trading Estate, Bridport, at the weekend, destroying one unit and severely damaging another.

Fifteen fire engines from across three counties were sent to the scene, where about 75 firefighters battled the blaze for more than nine hours.

The fire broke out at RKL Tools and Hardware’s warehouse and the unit was completely destroyed. It spread next door to Motorcare, which was also severely damaged.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Kate Moore, one of four company directors at family-run business RKL Tools and Hardware, first heard about the fire online and said ‘it didn’t feel real.’

“I was in complete shock,” said Mrs Moore, who lives in Weymouth.

“We hopped in the van and drove over. By time we got there, there was lots of smoke. We don’t know how it started, we’re waiting to find out, but everyone has been very supportive. The landlord has been brilliant, as have our suppliers, and next door have been so nice. Everyone has been helping each other and there’s a sense of us all being in this together. It’s been overwhelming.The whole trading estate has been wonderful and the community has been amazing.”

Mrs Moore says RKL’s four shops will continue to trade as normal. “We’re picking ourselves up and carrying on,” she said. “The main thing, of course, is that no one was hurt and 
while this will cause disruption to deliveries, our shops remain unaffected and will continue to trade as usual.”

Jack Scadding, owner of Motorcare, received a call early on Saturday morning alerting him to the fire and felt ‘panic’.

“It was huge,” he said. “It was horrendous. You just think about your business, your kids and wonder what you’re going to do.”

Mr Scadding says repairing the damage to his unit is expected to take nine to 12 months - but he has stressed his business is also running as normal and customers will be unaffected as he will work around them.

“So many people have asked if I need a hand with anything,” he said. “It helps – it feels like we’re not alone. There has been so much support. We’re open as normal and nothing will change for the customer.”

What caused the fire?

A spokesman for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) said it has ‘no definitive answer’ as to the cause of the fire due to the extent of the damage within the premises.

The fire broke out at about 4am on Saturday. Catherine Herbst, who lives nearby, had gone for 
a walk to settle her child back to sleep when she saw smoke billowing from the estate shortly after 5.30am.

“The warehouse was fully alight by the time I got to the bridge,” she said.

“The firefighters were spraying lots of water from the top of an electric ladder and from the ground with the hoses – they were doing a great job and it was really controlled.

“They were using water from the river and making sure everyone who was there was safe, taping off the scene just after the bridge so you could not get too close.”

Residents were advised to keep windows and doors closed for most of Saturday as smoke spread across the area.

DWFRS area manager Seth Why, who attended the incident, said firefighters worked hard to reduce the fire spread and made good progress within a few hours.

At midday, the response was scaled back to four fire engines.

Footage from the scene