A FIRE that tore through a railway carriage filled with tyres and sent thick black smoke billowing into the sky has prompted residents to speak out about anti-social behaviour.

The blaze, on the outskirts of Ferryhill, was spotted just after 6pm on Tuesday, May 14, and took firefighters more than four hours to extinguish.

The carriage was on land near Mainsforth woods, an area which is known to police to attract groups of youths on an evening and a weekend.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I was in the garden and suddenly noticed the sky above me had turned black, it was a sunny day so it was clear blue just before.

“It was burning for hours and the smoke just didn’t stop, thick black smoke kept billowing out.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had fires around here, it’s becoming a problem.”

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said: “Crews were alerted to reports of a fire on Mainsforth Industrial Estate, Ferryhill Station just after 6pm on Tuesday, May 14.

“Firefighters from Spennymoor were first on the scene, where it became apparent a railway carriage and a large quantity of tyres were well alight.

“A second crew was then deployed to the scene from Sedgefield Fire Station, both crews fought the fire for around four and half hours resulting in the fire being under control at around 10.30pm.”

The resident added: “I have spoke to local councillors to flag the issue because I’m sick of it.

“Residents have tried and tried to complain about the wrongdoings that are taking place. It’s happening more and more often and nothing is ever done about it.”

Durham County Councillor Peter Atkinson saw the smoke on Tuesday evening whilst in the area.

He said: “I understand where they [local residents] are coming from and I am very concerned about certain activities that are taking place in the area.

“I am doing my best to ensure that everyone is doing legitimate things and if they aren’t I’m working closely with the council to find a resolution.”

Police have also confirmed that extra patrols have been carried out around the area, particularly on evenings and weekends.

PCSO Laura Fairhurst said: “We are aware of an ongoing issue with youths congregating in the area and we are working to tackle the issue.

“We have visited local schools to discuss the dangers and consequences of setting fires and we will continue to carry out extra patrols.”

Police have also appealed for information regarding anti-social behaviour and have posted leaflets through neighbouring houses to encourage witnesses to come forward.

Another resident who spotted the fire said: “I walk my dog down there and was out walking last night when I seen the fire. The sky was just full of smoke and you could smell the rubber burning. There were a dozen or so firefighters trying to put the fire out.

“We often hear youths down there, groups of them come down on a night and the rubbish that’s left behind is really bad.

“It’s a lovely wooded area that’s popular with dog walkers like me but it is absolutely covered in rubbish now.

“There are often fires down there and you can see where things have been set on fire previously, there are piles of burnt ash and scorch marks on the ground.

“It is incredibly dangerous for anybody to be setting fires down there and my worry is that the woods are going to go up next.”

Anyone who witnesses any anti-social behaviour should contact police on 101.