THREE balconies crashed to the ground from a block of flats in Poole yesterday.

Residents of Berkley Manor, Poole Road, were woken at 12.40am by an “earthquake” noise as the balconies cascaded and occupants screamed.

Those living in the flats expressed anger that they had been put at risk, months after first being warned by the firm managing the property not to use the balconies.

In January metal fencing was erected below each block as a precautionary measure and a warning notice displayed in the lobby.

Sam Fisher, 26, who lives on the first floor, was one of those with an affected balcony and said he had first noticed it sagging at the end of 2011, but never expected it to fall in such dramatic fashion.

“There was an almighty bang. It felt like an earthquake and we could hear people above us screaming,” he added.

The fire brigade and police attended the scene as people rushed from the building in their bed clothes.

The occupant of the ground floor flat, who did not want to be named, said she had been terrified and shouted to the fire crew to ask whether it was safe to come out.

“I was left out in the cold in the middle of the night with my four month-old-baby and didn’t know what to do or where to go.

“I’m petrified to go back.”

Peter Coleman, 24, who lives with 23-year-old girlfriend Marilena Tella on the top floor of the property, said he had received an email in January four days after moving in stating the balcony should not be used.

“We still don’t know when we will be allowed to go back in to collect our belongings,” he added.

John Whitelock, director at JM Harding and Partners, which manages the properties, said structural engineers, surveyors, insurers and loss adjusters would be visiting the site to make assessments.

“The main thing at the moment is to make the building safe,” he added.