FIREFIGHTERS were still on the scene on Saturday morning following Friday's devastating industrial blaze near Blandford.

At its height, 125 firefighters from across Dorset were tackling the inferno at Symphony Candles on the Blandford Heights Industrial Estate.

On Saturday, one crew of six firefighters was left to finish damping down the scene and make it safe. A building inspector was also on scene assessing the damage.

Crews were alerted to the fire shortly after 7pm on Friday by a member of the public and a further 29 calls followed within minutes.

The factory building was destroyed in the fire and smoke could be seen from Picket Post in the New Forest, 30 miles away.

As the fire raged on Friday evening, locals were warned to stay indoors with windows closed as the fire engulfed a candle factory just outside Blandford.

Crews from as far afield as Bridport and Christchurch raced to the blaze on the Blandford Heights Industrial Estate.

They were alerted to the fire at Symphony Candles at just after 7pm by a member of the public.

Twenty-nine further phone calls followed within minutes.

A plume of black smoke from the fire could be seen from around 30 miles away at Picket Post in the New Forest.

Dorset Fire and Rescue positioned aerial platforms in front and behind the blazing building as crews worked to stop the fire spreading to nearby units.

Peter Kerr, a station manager from Christchurch who was in the command unit, said the factory had been "devastated".

"The building is pretty well lost. Hopefully it won't spread to any other units. It's a containment job at the moment," he said at the height of the blaze.

Crew managers were satisfied that the fire had been brought under control after two hours but firefighters were expected to remain at the scene until Saturday morning.

The fire also damaged nearby Global Marketing, which makes novelty and theatre merchandise for shows such The Full Monty and Mamma Mia.

Beverly Sharp, office manager for the company, said: "Our sales director was still working when he heard the noise and saw the fire engines.

"We've been told the warehouse has gone but the fire officer said it would be a couple of days before we know the full extent of the damage to the office."

New cars stood undamaged on the forecourt of nearby Seward garage as the fire raged less than 20ft away.

Blandford resident Debbi Thorne, who lives near the scene, said: "There were about 200 people watching. It's about 500 metres from the start of the housing estate.

"There was a popping sound - you could hear the windows were just melting."

Angie Henden, who also lives near the scene, said: "There was thick black smoke and flames coming out of the building. You could small the wax from the candles.

"All along the main road going towards Shaftesbury from Blandford, the place was covered in cars and people were standing on their roofs looking."

Public health experts from the Environment Agency were called to the scene as fears grew that melted wax could seep into the drainage system.

Fire engines shuttled back and forth between the blazing building and the River Stour at Bryanston to keep giant 9,000-gallon water bowsers filled to service the aerial platforms.

Incident commander Colin Chapman said it had been a difficult fire to fight because of the materials involved and a strong wind.

"Fire crews managed to protect the buildings immediately adjacent and the fire crews were able to salvage some of the contents. They have worked very hard," he said.

Symphony Candles was founded in 1997 by classical musician Chris Redsell.

In November 2003, firefighters tackled a blaze at the company's factory at Barn Haven Farm, Sturminster Newton. The flames spread to a neighbouring open barn, damaging farm machinery and 15 tonnes of straw.