Residents were forced to flee and owners have been left “devastated” as a major fire gutted an Edwardian mansion near Carlisle.

Scalesceugh Hall, three miles south of the city and the site of an ambitious development project, was almost completely destroyed by a fire that raged throughout Tuesday night.

Nearly every fire crew from north Cumbria was called to the scene to tackle the inferno, with firefighters also spending much of yesterday working to dampen down the wreckage of the Grade II listed building.

The fire claimed the hall’s roof and interior, blowing out the windows and doors.

With the fire having burned for about six hours, only the stone walls remain.

However, firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading beyond Scalesceugh Hall itself, saving the occupied houses behind.

The owners of the hall, Bruno and Dr Anita Herdeiro described their “deep sadness” at seeing the extent of the damage to the mansion.

“Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and all the residents of Scalesceugh Villas were evacuated safely as a precaution,” they said in a statement released yesterday morning.

“The villas were not touched by the fire, and our Wellness Centre, currently being constructed, was also undamaged.”

The husband and wife team, who were in the process of repurposing the hall into the centrepiece of an ambitious £3.6m retirement community project, praised Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for their swift action in preventing the inferno from spreading.

“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to firefighters who attended from across the area for their tireless efforts to bring the blaze under control and stop it spreading any further,” they said.

The fire service’s incident commander at the scene, Stuart Hook, said: “Initially we mobilised two fire engines from Carlisle, but as we arrived we saw that the fire was going through the roof.

“We saw it was a well-developed fire on arrival. At that point we had people missing and our priority was search and rescue.

“It soon became apparent that everyone was accounted for, and by that point we had got about eight appliances out.”

The main part of the listed building is understood to have been destroyed, but the efforts of firefighters prevented the flames spreading to any of the other buildings on site.

Mr Hook added: “Our initial problem was water. We’ve had to use vehicles to ferry water - we had a water relay set up, and we had to use our water bowser which carries 7,000 litres and our wildfire unit which carries about 4,000 litres.

“We made sure about 10 surrounding properties were evacuated, as a precaution, for the safety of everyone in the area.”

The exact extent of the damage is at present unclear.

However, Mr and Mrs Herdeiro remain determined in their outlook not to let the blaze stop them from realising their ambition at Scalesceugh Hall

“We have put our hearts and souls, time, love and much money into restoring the Edwardian mansion that brought us to this beautiful corner of Cumbria,” the couple said yesterday.

“This was a very difficult day for us. We are devastated by what has happened.

“Nevertheless, we remain committed to our dream, to provide a stunning place to live at Scalesceugh.

“This setback, though devastating, will not deter us from carrying on.”

The couple also thanked everyone who had expressed concern to the couple throughout yesterday.