A fire has badly damaged the cookery school kitchens at TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage headquarters in Devon.

The fire took hold on Tuesday night and the alarm was raised at 10pm. Fire-fighters took several hours to get the fire under control and had to isolate tanks of highly combustible liquid propane.

Fire Investigation Officer Mike Burroughs, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC News there were some ‘big safety issues for crews to deal with to deal with’.

He said: “I think there were 10 ovens in there, and each oven had its own gas cylinder.

River Cottage managing director Rob Love said staff were trying to contact Hugh, who is filming abroad.

He said: “He’s on a boat, but we’re not exactly sure where he is so it might take some time to get through.”

River Cottage said its cookery school courses which are held in the converted barn would not be running in the short term. The Canteen restaurant and delicatessen, based in the centre of Axminster, hadn’tt been affected by the fire.