Police have cordoned off a block of flats after a suspected arson last night.

Five people were treated by paramedics following the fire at a block of flats in Hunt Road, Christchurch.

Officers are now investigating the incident, as it is believed the fire was started deliberately.

PICTURED: Damage caused following suspected arson attack at block of flats

The block is understood to have sustained "quite a bit of damage", according to the ward councillor for the area.

Dorset Police received a report at 7.56pm from the fire service relating to a fire at a block of flats in Hunt Road, Somerford.

It was believed the fire had originated in a communal hallway of the building.

Residents were evacuated, with five people checked over for smoke inhalation. None of them are believed to be in a serious condition.

Chief Inspector Andy Bell, of Dorset Police, said: “The initial indication is that this fire is believed to have been started deliberately and we have launched an investigation to establish the full circumstances of what happened.

“I am keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity in the area around the time of the incident or who has any information that might assist our ongoing enquiries.

“We will continue to work with the fire service to confirm the cause of the fire and there will be a cordon in place as an examination of the scene continues.

“I want to thank the residents involved for their co-operation and understanding as the emergency services respond to this matter, as well as other members of the local community affected by this incident.”

Ward councillor for Burton and Grange, Simon McCormack, posted on social media: "You may have heard that there was a fire in one of the blocks in Hunt Road.

"Fortunately nobody was injured and the fire brigade was able to put the fire out quite quickly as soon as they were there, however, the block itself has sustained quite a bit of damage.

"The police currently have it cordoned off and will be undertaking investigations. If you have any information or concerns about what has happened please do get in contact with me."