Bridport fire caused accidentally, fire service says

The fire in St Michael’s Studios, Bridport, on Saturday evening was caused accidentally, the fire service says.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said the likely cause was “an electrical issue or through refracted light on combustible materials”.

But Bridport Fire Station manager Sean Blizzard said that due to the damage at the premises, the fire service did not believe it could pinpoint the exact cause.

More than 20 artists operate in the workshop and many of them have lost all their work and materials in the fire.

Artist Kit Glaisyer posted on social media: “We’re all in a state of shock.

“I can still see my paintings on the walls, but I can’t get in until the building has been made safe, and even then I don’t know what is salvageable or how much I can retrieve.”

Fire crews from Bridport, Beaminster, Lyme Regis, Yeovil, Axminster, Seaton, Honiton, Castle Cary, Dorchester, Weymouth, Ilminster and Ottery St Mary attended the blaze.

At the height of the incident, there were 12 pumping appliances and two aerial ladders.

Artists around the UK have launched fundraising campaigns for those in the building to help them restart their work. Many are also auctioning their art online to donate to the fundraising.

A Facebook fundraising page set up by Andrea Jenkins has so far raised £4,850 towards its £20,000 target.

The page states: “On 7 July a fire raged through St Michael’s Studio in Bridport, Dorset. It destroyed several of the artist’s studios including all their artwork, materials and equipment.

“Whilst recognising that nothing can replace all that lost creativity, this fundraiser aims to offer some practical support for the affected artists so that they can start to replace the materials and equipment they need to resume their creative practices. Please donate if you can. Thank you.”

In July 2017, estate owners Hayward and Co received outline planning permission to demolish part of St Michael’s Trading Estate in Bridport to build 91 new homes and refurbish the remainder of the estate.