RESIDENTS were advised to stay indoors and roads closed as numerous teams of firefighters tackled a major fire involving a mountain of around 100 cars.

As a blaze swept through the scrapyard in Lingey Close, Sacriston, near Chester-le-Street, concerns grew for those living nearby due to large amounts of smoke billowing from the premises.

Five fire appliances were sent to battle the blaze, which broke out shortly before 2pm. Firefighters took more than an hour to bring the fire under control.

The North East Ambulance Service also attended the scene, but no one was believed to have been hurt.

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County Durham and Darlington Fire Rescue Service said they had received a large number of calls from the public alerting them to the fire.

Station and community safety manager Andrew Allison said: “We were alerted to the fire at about 1.55pm by numerous callers.

“When we arrived at the auto dismantling yard we found a mountain of about 100 cars, piled on top of each other on fire.

“We worked with Durham Police to set up road closures. 

“The ambulance was also in attendance, but as far as we know there were no injuries. It took us about an hour to bring the fire under control.

“We aren’t sure how the fire started - it’s too early to say as we haven’t had time to investigate or speak to the owner yet.”

Mr Allison said there four appliances attended the incident - two from Durham, one from High Handenhold and one from Peterlee - as well as a water bowser from Spennymoor.

He added: “With the help of police we informed residents in the surrounding area of the possible dangers of smoke coming from the fire.

“We advised them to shut their doors and windows and stay indoors and they should have no problems. 

“Anyone with respiratory problems was told to take special care and to seek advice from their GP.”

Resident Jim Carter, 80, said: “I have stood here in my garden watching it all the time.

“There was just smoke when we first saw it, but the next thing the whole heap of cars was up in flames. The fire brigade arrived first and then the police. 

“We weren’t worried by the smoke because it was all drifting in the other direction and over the road on the wind.”

The fire was deemed to be under control by about 5pm, with firefighters remaining on the scene to douse it down. 

Mr Allison said one of the concerns following the blaze was to establish where the water from the firefighting operation had flowed to.

He said: “We are working closely with the Environment Agency to make sure that water does not pollute any of the watercourses or any other natural water in the area.”

Police said that Acorn Close had been closed to the traffic.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.