AROUND 60 firefighters fought a huge blaze at a large detached property in Branksome Park yesterday evening.

The property in Leicester Road, which is the subject of plans for a care home, caught fire just after 6pm.

On arrival fire crews found a “well developed fire” on the first floor and roof space.

Station manager Phil Burridge described the blaze as serious but added that no-one was believed to have been hurt or killed.

He said: “The cause is unknown and is being investigated by ourselves and police. The roof and first floor have been severely damaged by fire. Half the roof has gone. We are not aware that anyone was in there.

“We would expect to be here for some time damping down.”

The fire did not spread to other properties and trees in the road he added.

Crews from Westbourne, Poole, Redhill, Christchurch, Swanage and Hamworthy were involved in tackling the fire.

The high-rise appliance from Westbourne was also used.

Part of Leicester Road was cordoned off by police while the fire was brought under control.

Neighbour Sue Rutland and her son Tim, 12, were among the first at the scene.

Sue, 45, said: “My son came running out to say that the house was on fire. Then we came out here and saw that one room was ablaze inside.

“We went round the back and had a look. Within 10 minutes the whole floor was ablaze and the roof caved in pretty quickly. There was an almighty crash of tiles and a massive cloud of smoke and fire.”

Tim said: “I saw the neighbour running past. I was doing my homework and I looked out of the window to see what was going on. There was smoke coming from the building. At first there was just smoke billowing out quite fast and much bigger flames, and then the roof caved in.”