Fire service to be at scene of huge Durham City blaze for hours as it confirms where it started
A huge blaze that has shut several roads across Durham City Centre started with a fire in a cavity wall, the fire service has confirmed.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service sent eight appliances to the scene at the Milburngate development in Durham City on Wednesday afternoon.
The blaze has caused chaos across the city as police closed off several roads and urged people to stay away from the area.
Area Manager Keith Wanley confirmed that crews discovered a fire on a cavity wall that runs along the outside of the development and said they'll be on scene for another couple of hours.
Speaking from the scene he said: "Just after 2pm this afternoon, we were called to a fire at the Milburngate development in Durham City.
"On arrival, we found that there was a fire on a cavity wall that runs along the outside of the development.
"Currently we have eight fire appliances in attendance at the incident, we have also got the police, HART [Hazardous Area Response Team], and the ambulance service here and we're all working very closely together to get this to a safe resolution.
"Just to confirm the fire is only in the cavity wall, we have got jets of water into the cavity to control the fire."
Reports initially emerged that there was an explosion but Keith Wanley confirmed there were no reports of that on-site.
He continued: "We've heard that there have been reports of an explosion, there have been no reports of an explosion on-site, it's just a fire in a cavity wall.
"What the public may see is smoke swelling up as the wind changes direction which may have given them concern for that but that's just where the wind is turning and is increasing the intensity of the smoke.
"What I would advise members of the public is to please stay out of the smoke.
"The police have got the road shut off in the area to prevent traffic from going by but if there are any properties in the area stay indoors keep your windows and doors shut and you'll be absolutely fine.
"We expect to be here for another couple of hours until we get the water into the cavity wall to extinguish the fire."
Traffic delays are expected into Wednesday evening while the emergency services put out the fire.
Bus services have also been impacted by the fire with Go North East services unable to stop between Sherburn Road and Claypath.
Arriva North East services are also impacted by the road closure on Milburngate.
Bus services are instead serving Wharton Park (North Road) and Sutton Street.
Emergency services have urged the public to avoid the area.
A spokesperson for the Durham Constabulary said: "Fire crews are currently at the scene of a fire in the Milburngate development in Durham City.
"Milburngate Bridge is currently closed, as are Framwellgate Peth and Crossgate Peth.
"We are asking people to avoid the area and find an alternative route.
"Please follow County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service for further updates."