A huge fire has broken out on a building site in Durham city centre, forcing locals to shut their windows to avoid the smoke.
The blaze is believed to have happened in an old passport office which is being turned into a new development, reports ChronicleLive.
Dramatic pictures and video show smoke and dust billowing into the sky and clouding the view across the city.
One person has been treated for smoke inhalation, the local fire service said.
Firefighters from five stations raced to the Milburngate development at just after 2pm, a statement added.
The full circumstances of the incident – and the cause – are not yet known.
“Milburngate Bridge, Framwellgate & Crossgate Peth is currently closed.
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“We are asking people to avoid the area and find an alternative route.”
County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service said that they had not received any reports of an explosion, as was initially rumoured.
A spokesperson said: “There are currently eight crews at scene of a fire at the Milburngate development in Durham City.
“We would like to confirm there are no reports of an explosion and our crews are dealing with large fire in the construction site.
“Our colleagues from Durham Constabulary have closed the surrounding roads while our crews bring the fire under control.
“One person has been treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
“We would like to advise local residents to close their windows and doors and ask commuters to avoid the city centre and find an alternative route home.
“Thank you for your cooperation.”
Durham County Council has urged people to stay away.
A tweet said: “Due to an ongoing incident, Milburngate Bridge is temporarily closed. Please avoid travelling into Durham City Centre.”
And a spokesperson for the North East Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 2.09 to reports of a fire at the Milburngate development in Durham city centre.
“We have dispatched three vehicles from our Hazard Area Response Team and a double crewed ambulance. We are currently still on the scene.”
Mary Kelly Foy, the MP for the City of Durham, urged people to “stay safe”.
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