A large fire broke out in a car workshop near the Medina Boat Yard in Cowes yesterday.

Explosions were reported after the blaze spread in the workshop, which contained flammable gas and 50 fibreglass boats, in Medina Village.

Many yachts were lost in the fire including 15 Etchell keelboats, which represents almost half of the Cowes Etchells fleet, seven XOD one-designs were lost in the blaze.

It is reported that five Dragons were lost, and the fire destroyed classic yachts including the Mylne yacht Fedoa, which was being restored by Moreton Marine, and the Sibbick yacht Witch that was nearing the final months of its restoration by Martin Nott on the same premises.

Cowes development officer for the UK Etchells Fleet, Rob Goddard said: ’15 Etchells from the Cowes fleet are allegedly destroyed, we cannot enter the shed yet to check the exact number or condition, David Franks the Cowes Fleet Captain has been actively sourcing replacement vessels,

‘In Cowes we have in excess of 30 boats, and the majority of them race regularly in our One Design fleet.

‘This year with the Etchells Worlds Championships taking place in Cowes, potentially this fire could have caused a major issue, but with Class Captain, David Franks finding and securing potential replacement vessels, and owners such as Matt Hannaby who lost his boat “Escape” taking prompt action having already negotiated a replacement, we are confident in the Worlds not only proceeding but being a major success, particularly as some potential new skippers to the fleet have decided that they should proceed now with their boat purchases rather than wait any further.

‘Luckily David Heritages workshop did not catch fire, and as such all new builds should be completed well ahead of the championships.’

Yachts and Yachting reports that estimates suggest more than 30 boats were destroyed, with a total value of ‘over £1million’.

Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene at about 12.30pm and more than 30 firefighters tackled the fire, which saw plumes of smoke reach some 200ft into the air.

The Red Funnel vehicle ferry cancelled some services on safety grounds.

Local resident Anna Pocock said on Facebook: ‘Seriously impressed and grateful to the Island’s emergency services for getting this horrific industrial fire behind our house under control. The smoke and fallout from a burning car workshop (and fifty fibreglass boats) in these gale force conditions was terrifying. But we are safe, if a little smoky.’

A fire service spokesman said: ‘There were 50 fibreglass boats, multiple cars and acetylene cylinders inside the building.

‘We received a call at 12.31pm this afternoon and six fire engines are currently on the scene.

‘As far as we know everyone who works in the building has been accounted for.’

Residents of Thetis Road were termporarily housed at the Corinthean Yacht Club, in Birmingham Road, until they were were allowed to return home last night.