WORRIED residents are in fear of a repeat of a major town centre fire - after a yard is once again filling up with household appliances and rubbish.

Just three months ago firefighters took more than two hours to tackle the fierce blaze in Shutts Yard, just off Bondgate in Darlington.

The fire – which left a huge plume of acrid smoke hanging over the town – involved more than 100 fridges crammed inside the yard along with other items including old television sets, radiators, toys and oil drums.

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Last night people living near the yard, surrounded by homes and businesses, say it continues to be a "complete fire hazard" and they remain in "constant fear" – despite a ban on further objects being stored there.

They say household appliances are again being stored there while other white goods have also been dumped in the alley which leads to the unsecured site.

On Friday, fire crews returned to the yard after people were spotted inside lighting a fire.

Residents have criticised the authorities for not doing enough to tackle the long-running problem – with a year-long investigation by Darlington Borough Council yet to be completed.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “On Friday I had to ring the fire brigade as they were having a fire there again.

“The back alley is full of fridges and the area is a complete fire hazard, it should be cleared as a matter of urgency - there are asbestos sheets broken up.

“It’s an absolute joke and it’s been going on since the beginning of 2016 and nothing has changed, the place is an eyesore.”

Another neighbour said: “We are living in constant fear of a fire happening again.

“All it takes is the fire to get out of control and I don’t even want to think about what the consequences would be like.”

Another added: “It has been a constant problem that does not seem to go away.

“Every time we think it is going to get sorted and the council tell us they are looking into it, we just end up back to square one.”

The Northern Echo understands officials from Darlington Borough Council visited the site on Monday afternoon.

A council spokeswoman said: “We will be dealing with the large fridges and freezers in the alleyway as that is a public space. We will be looking to investigate that further as it is fly-tipping.”

The authority had been investigating anti-social activities at the yard for months before May's blaze.

Then, residents said items in the yard had been building up for months and claimed fire engines had been called to the yard several times.

In response to the blaze earlier this year, the council said tenants occupying the flats associated with the yard had been served with community protection notices, forbidding them to have fires in the shared space.

They were also told they must clear the yard of its accumulation of miscellaneous items.

As a result of the investigation – which remains on-going – they were also warned they were banned from storing items there in future.

A council spokeswoman said last night it is working with the Environment Agency, the fire brigade and the landlord of the associated properties to tackle the problem.

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service added: “We are aware there have been a number of fires at this location over recent months and our crews have attended to tackle them and make the area safe.

“We are currently working closely with other agencies to tackle issues in this area.”

The Northern Echo has asked Darlington Borough Council to provide an update on its investigation.