THE massive cost of yesterday’s fire in Cowes is being counted by businesses and community groups this morning (Tuesday), with award-winning clothing company Rapanui, Cowes Carnival and classic yachts among those to be hit.
The fire broke out at around 12.30pm in the Medina Village industrial units off Bridge Road.
Firefighters from across the Isle of Wight, supported by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service units sent to the scene, battled for hours to bring the blaze under control.
The main fire was out by around 7pm.
Two fire engines and a command unit remained on the site this morning (Tuesday) to monitor the buildings and Bridge Road was not expected to re-open until lunch time.
Rapanui said on Twitter last night (Tuesday): "Team safe and well, building just about standing, but contents gone. News soon on all this."
Cowes Carnival organisers posted on Facebook: "The fire started in the unit right behind us, so our unit did not stand a chance. We did not just lose the float.
"We lost tools that have been collected for 15 years. Boat batteries that run our electrics. Chairs, lighting, trailers. The list goes on and on.
"Yes, insurance will pay out, but it could take months of investigation.
"Are we going to give up in our 120th year? The answer is no."
They have appealed for help to find a new premises, while Cowes business Beds R Us has offered to provide a new float.
"We have to remember many businesses are lost. Businesses that took years to build. That means people without an income. We were only one of the victims," they added.
Corby Yachts boss, John Corby, said his business had escaped damage due to the wind direction.
He added however: "A tragic day for Cowes. No lives lost, but a lot of boats in storage, eg Etchells and Dragons, went up in flames, including some beautifully restored larger classic yachts, with literally years of meticulous loving work all gone."
Around 40 business units are on the site, with many connected by the same roof.
Police established a 250m cordon and evacuated Thetis Road due to concerns about gas cylinders in some of the buildings.
Regular popping sounds could be heard from the blaze and a large explosion was heard at around 2pm.
Speaking just after 3pm, Jeff Walls, senior duty officer with the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, said there had been large structural damage to parts of the building.
He said there were at least three acetylene gas cylinders, which the fire service were concerned about.
"From previous experience on the mainland, if they go up, shrapnel can fly quite a large distance, hence the cordon."
Residents of Thetis Road, termporarily housed at the Corinthean Yacht Club, in Birmingham Road, were allowed to return home last night.
UKSA has offered to help affected businesses by providing temporary office space. They can be contacted via marketing@UKSA.org
* Just after 4.30pm, the Isle of Wight Council said fire investigators had concluded the cause of the fire was an accident.
A spokesman said no further details were available at this time, but all fire appliances had left the area and the roads had been re-opened.
Crews had remained on the scene earlier this afternoon to ensure there were no flare-ups from the strong winds.
More pictures and video here.