FIREFIGHTERS have praised the quick-thinking of bookshop workers who raised the alarm after a fire broke out in a staff area.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service station officer Ian Moore said: "Crews from Durham and Spennymoor attended a fire on the second floor at Waterstones in Saddler Street, Durham, at about 8.55am on Thursday.

"Members of staff had turned up for work and could smell smoke when they entered. They carried out a preliminary investigation to see if they could see where it was coming from and noticed smoke coming from a staff area, away from the store.

"They evacuated the premises immediately, dialled 999 to call the fire brigade and alterted surrounding shops which were also evacuated.

"They did an excellent job of raising the alarm. Their quick-thinking helped prevent the fire spreading."

He added: "We mobilised two appliances and extinguished the fire using a hosereel. One of main challenges was the location of the building, which is in Saddler Street and only wide enough for one vehicle, so it did cause quite a lot of congestion in the area.

"It took them about an hour to extinguish before the road could be cleared.

"The fire damage was confined to the room where it started. There was a bit of smoke damage on that level of the building."

Mr Moore said a faulty boiler was believed to have been the cause of the fire.