FIRE crews were called in after a huge blaze broke out at North-East refuse plant this afternoon.

Thick black smoke could be seen across Darlington after a drilling machine and a pile of household waste caught alight at Albert Hill Skip Hire site, in Dodsworth Street, on St Nicholas Industrial Estate, in the Albert Hill area.

One crew from Darlington was initially called to tackle the fire after the alarm was raised at 3.12pm, with another from the town and two from Bishop Auckland joining them at 3.23pm.

Loading article content

On arrival, fire fighters discovered two plant vehicles had also caught alight.

Police and the environmental protection unit from Darlington Fire and Rescue also attended, along with officers from Darlington Borough Council.

One onlooker said: "There were emergency services everywhere and the sky was filled with plumes of black smoke."

At 7.30pm police issued a message to local residents.

"Although the fire is still burning, the fire brigade have the blaze under control," a Durham Police spokesman said.

"There are presently no road closures in place, although emergency services would urge all members of the public to stay clear of the general area to allow the fire brigade to extinguish the blaze and make the premises safe.

"Residents are requested to close all windows and doors for their own convenience due to the amount of smoke that is presently being dispersed from the premises."