THE owner of an art gallery reckons her premises were minutes from being destroyed in a massive fire.

Alison Cosserat is now in a race against time to open for a major exhibition of artists' work this month.

She is hoping the Old Brick Workshop, on Poole Trading Estate, will welcome visitors for the first time since lockdown during Somerset Arts Weeks from September 19.

Miss Cosserat watched helplessly during Sunday's blaze as scores of batteries exploded and shot 50 metres across the site "like fireworks".

The fire started in containers full of old electronic equipment outside neighbouring business South West Computer Recycling.

She said: "There was a massive mushroom cloud over the building and flames between the end of the building and the railway.

"There were batteries flying through the air like fireworks.

"It was lucky the firefighters arrived when they did. It they'd been five minutes later it would probably have been a very different story.

"The gable end of our building was on fire and all the windows have cracked, while a lot of water from the hoses has come through into our gallery, soaking the floor and walls.

"The pipework has melted and there are holes where the flames came through."Somerset County Gazette:

Miss Cosserat added: "We're going to do everything we can to get it going for Somerset Arts Weeks.

"We've got 12 different artists bringing work to display and it's our first opportunity to open since March

"I can't hang anything until the place has dried out, but hopefully we can do so on Monday.

Steve Kingdon, of South West Computer Recycling, faces a £15,000 bill after his trailers containing old phones, laptops and tablets went up in flames.

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He said: "I feel terrible for interrupting Alison's business. I am sorry for what's happened.

"We might not be the most liked neighbours at the moment, but I've offered to do everything we can to help.

"I'm grateful to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service for working at the weekend to make sure it didn't spread throughout the building."

A similar fire almost exactly a year ago to the day saw Mr Kingdon's previous premises burnt to the ground.

He said: "We handle 200 tonnes of this stuff a month. That's a lot of batteries, which do explode - they're an absolute nightmare, but we try to handle everything as safely as we can."