Thousands of patients are waiting to find out how their dental care will be affected by a raging fire which tore through an island practice.

The incident happened on Orchard Road in Port Erin during the early hours of Monday.

Firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze at the Manx Care-run Port Erin Dental Practice after the alarm was raised just after 1am.

Staff from the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service reported seeing flames ‘coming out of the windows’ of the property while gas cylinders could be heard ‘exploding’ inside the practice.

Isle of Man Today understands that one of the residents living in the flats above the practice managed to phone emergency services after the building's smoke alarms were triggered.

All occupants inside the flats above the practice had left the property by the time emergency services arrived at the scene.

An open door shows the damage inside the building
An open door shows the damage inside the building (Media Isle of Man)

Six teams of firefighters then spent around four hours battling the blaze.

According to emergency service staff at the scene on Monday, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

In the aftermath of the blaze one passer-by said the fire had left the practice ‘burned to a crisp’.

Manx Care has confirmed that all planned appointments at the site had been scrapped for the ‘foreseeable future’.

The arms-length healthcare provider is now set to meet with the practice owner on Tuesday to discuss dental arrangements for the centre’s patients, with a number of potential options on the table.

According to Manx Care, the practice owner needed to gather more information about the situation before any decisions regarding the ongoing care of patients could be made.

A spokesperson said: ‘Manx Care understand that this is a very difficult time for the [practice] owner, the staff at the practice and patients, and we will support as best we can.’

The latest records held by Manx Care shows that more than 6,700 NHS patients are on the books at the practice.

The organisation does not hold records relating to the number of private patients at the practice.

In a statement issued earlier on Monday morning, a Manx Care spokesperson said: ‘The practice are working closely with Manx Care and will keep patients updated accordingly.

The scene of the fire in Port Erin
The scene of the fire in Port Erin (Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service)

‘The practice will be in touch with their patients in due course with regards to their future appointments.’

Patients who require an emergency appointment for pain, bleeding or swelling have been told to contact the owner of Port Erin Dental Practice’s other site, the Square Dental Practice in Douglas, on 621440.

One of the practice’s neighbours on Orchard Road said he could still smell the fire when they arrived in the morning.

They said: ‘The smell was pungent this morning.

‘It hasn’t affected our unit at all which is good, but we can still smell burnt plastic now which is 12 hours later.

‘We both use that dentist and it’s a really good practice so it’s a real shame.

‘We can see while we’re working here that it’s really busy and popular.’

A member of the public passing by the practice on Monday afternoon was shocked to see the state the building was in and said: ‘I feel awful because I’ve been getting angry at this dentist recently for not answering my calls!

Scene of the blaze at Port Erin Dental Practice
Scene of the blaze at Port Erin Dental Practice (-)

‘They’re usually a great practice and this is awful to see.

‘I hope everyone is ok.’

Pictures taken at the scene around the time of the fire show a firefighters using an aerial ladder platform extended above the building in an attempt to bring the flames under control. 

Another image taken by the fire service shows staff entering a part of the blackened building left charred by smoke and flames. 

According to the fire service, the consequences of the blaze could have been much worse were it not for the smoke alarms inside the property.

‘This incident highlights the importance of working smoke alarms, when there is a fire, smoke spreads fast,’ added station officer Matt Tyrer. 

‘Working smoke alarms save lives, they give early warning in the case of fire which can enable occupants to get out of the property in the early stages of a fire, which in turn allows us to get to you more quickly.’