AN intense blaze that ripped through the offices and roof of Kendal Conservative Club this morning took fire fighters two hours to bring under control.

Neighbouring properties and flats had to be evacuated as fire personnel from Kendal, Staveley and Barrow fought the fire from a stairwell inside the terraced building on Highgate.

There were concerns for members of the public as the offices are next door to a paint store. One person, who alerted the fire service to the blaze, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and shock.

“The initial action for the crews was to evacuate people from adjacent properties and flats to the rear of the building,” said Kendal Group Manager, Steve Healey, from the scene. “The fire was well developed at first floor level when we arrived and was spreading into the roof.

“Fire fighters started attacking the fire from outside using a main jet. We very quickly made up the number of appliances from two to three and called for the aerial ladder platform from Barrow.

“When it was safe to gain entry fire fighters using breathing apparatus fought the fire from the staircase enclosure and it probably took in the region of two hours to get completely under control.”

The blaze also ripped through Green Door Studios, which rents part of the building and houses 14 artist spaces. The centre of Kendal was blocked off to traffic and vehicles were diverted up Gillinggate.

“The fire was quite intense due to the nature of the use of the buildings. There were paints and solvents stored in there. Because it is a terraced building the main task has been stopping it spreading to adjoining properties.”

Fire fighters are still at the scene and were wating for a surveyor from South Lakeland District Council to arrive to assess the "structural integrity" of the building.