A MAJOR fire has devastated a much-loved garden centre.

The blaze broke out at Strikes in Stokesley on Friday night.

On Saturday morning the full extent of the damage caused was evident.

Buildings were left empty shells with smoke still rising.

Staff hugged each other in the car park as they sought to come to terms with the incident.

Friends and nearby residents gave words of comfort, one family bringing over flasks of tea and coffee.

Station Officer Andy Creasey, below, of North Yorkshire Fire Service told The Northern Echo: "We believe the incident started around 9.20pm.​

"Police were alerted to an alarm activating. When the police arrived they noticed there was a significant fire in the centre part of the building.

"They called ourselves and we deployed two fire appliances initially and then once those appliances arrived on the scene we quickly made that up to four fire appliances and the aerial ladder platform."

The Northern Echo:

SO Creasey said the fire presented a number of problems.

"The problem that we have is that due to the construction of the building it's difficult to get water jets into the building.

"The water is hitting the roofing panels and just running off the incident. A priority is personnel safety as well.

"It's trying to trying the incident externally making sure we can get into the fire as quickly as we could."

Three fire appliances remained on the scene on Saturday morning.

"We are into a stage now where we have got hotspots and we are just damping down and making sure there is nothing else flaring up anywhere.

"We have got three fire appliances on the scene and what they are doing is working through the hotspots just making sure that any parts are damped down."

The cause of the fire is being investigated and police were visible at the premises around 10.15am.

"We have got no indication at this point in time (as to what caused the fire," SO Creasey said.

"We have requested fire investigation now that we have got some daylight. They will be working alongside the police's crime scene investigation probably throughout the day to try and identify a potential cause."

He said there would a fire service presence on scene for the rest of the day.