Officer in charge of the incident, Station Manager Paul Riddell, said: "On arrival crews were met with a severe and rapidly developing fire in a top floor flat where multiple rescues were required and aggressive firefighting undertaken.
"Numerous families did a fantastic job of getting to a place of fresh air after they realised they could not escape via the communal corridor. Residents had retreated to their balconies after blocking the bottom of their front doors with towels and blankets to stop smoke entering their properties."
More top news
Sunday evening's weather for the east
Sunday evening's weather for the west
Streets around a Dorset cul-de-sac have been cordoned off by police investigating the shooting dead of a householder by armed intruders.