ASBESTOS tiles were thrown 15-feet into the air as fire ripped through a building creating a smoke plume which was visible for miles.

Fire crews from Crook, Durham and Consett tackled the blaze at a commercial building in Tow Law, County Durham, on Friday (June 14) at just after 4.30pm.

The burning building was a single storey structure about 200 yards to the rear of a garage owned by Ridley Exhausts Ltd.

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Eyewitness David Blinkhorn, of Tow Law, said the fire crews had some difficulty in accessing a water supply from near a busy road.

He said: “It was amazing. It was really hot in the centre of the building and flames were coming through the roof.

“What looked like asbestos tiles were shooting off and they were going about 15-feet into the air before they scattered across the area.

“I don't think the fire could spread but the heat was so intense. I don't think there was anyone inside the building.

“I'm not sure how the fire started but the building was completely gutted.”

A County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said there had been a problem with asbestos as they fought the blaze.

The emergency services left the scene at 10.54pm. A fire crew returned the following day to check on the building. It is not known what caused the fire.