EXPLODING gas canisters near a factory that makes doner kebabs has led to a major operation on an industrial estate.

Emergency services were called to the area around Star Meats, off Gresley Road, Peterlee, at around 6pm on Thursday evening.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from miles around and people who work nearby reported feeling their buildings shake.

It is understood several canisters in two shipping containers, and a caravan in the area, have exploded.

Group manager Rob Cherrie, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We were called to report of cylinders exploding.

“There was very heavy thick black smoke when we arrived. The fire was burning within the containers.

“We are at the stage now where we think the cylinders are cool but we will remain at the scene until we are sure.”

Mr Cherrie said no-one was hurt during the incident.

Around 25 firefighters attended the scene of the fire but the incident has now been scaled back.

The fire service says it will make further visits throughout Friday to ensure the scene remains under control.

Durham Constabulary has said an evacuation was carried out at South West Industrial Estate.

A police spokesman said on Thursday: “We are currently working with fire dealing with a large fire on South West Industrial Estate, Peterlee.

“Evacuation is currently ongoing and the incident will have a large impact on the road network in the area and the advice is to avoid the area if possible.”