A HUGE blaze has engulfed a prison van on the A19 at Birdforth, between Thirsk and Easingwold, just after noon today.

The van, which was travelling on the northbound carriageway, was not carrying any prisoners and the driver managed to escape the burning vehicle before it burst into flames.

It is believed the fire started when a tyre caught fire.

A spokesman from North Yorkshire Police said: “The road was closed but now has one lane open – there are traffic problems so it will be best to avoid the area.

“Fire crews called us to assist with traffic control while the blaze was put out.

“There has been some fire damage to the road but luckily no one was hurt.”

A spokeswoman from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said: “One fire crew attended and two hose reels were used to put out the fire, and arrived around 12.30pm.

“The crews are waiting for the vehicle to be towed away, after which the road can be re-opened.”