FIREFIGHTERS are continuing to tackle a major fire in a waste processing plant.

Huge clouds of smoke could be seen for miles around after the fire at the former Eldon Brickworks site near Bishop Auckland.

Emergency services were called to the scene in the early hours of Monday morning and fire fighters expect to be there all week making sure the fire is under control.

Residents were advised to close their windows to protect themselves from potentially harmful fumes and the fire service has said it was possible asbestos could have been present in the buildings, which have been destroyed in the fire.

The Northern Echo:

The fire at Eldon

Rob Cherrie, County Durham Darlington’s group manager, said: “When we turned up the building was well alight. It was full of household waste. It was a significant fire. The structure had collapsed.

"There could be anything in there with household waste, there is potentially asbestos in there as those old buildings are full of asbestos. The roof can be full of it.

“When you put water on it, it dissipates the risk so the risk to the public is not that great.

"We do not know if it was started purposefully or accidentally yet.”

The fire service will be conducting a joint investigation with Durham Constabulary to determine the cause of the fire.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency, which attended the scene along with Durham County Council, said: “The Environment Agency is supporting County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service in responding to a fire at a waste site in Eldon, Bishop Auckland.

“Our officers are on site, assessing any potential impact on air and water.

“We will also work with the fire service and the site operator to investigate possible causes.”

The Northern Echo:

Fire engines at the scene 

Planning permission for the waste management centre was granted by Durham County Council to the Viridis Group in July 2016.

The authority was told it would create 50 jobs and invest £4.5 million in the plant.

Information posted on Companies House show the firm is in liquidation having been wound up in May.

It is understood the site is now managed by Falconstwo, a waste management firm based in Stockton.  

The Northern Echo has been unable to contact the company for a comment.

Bishop Auckland resident Kevin Longstaff said: “I live in Bishop, which is two miles from there and I could see it. I could hear the popping noise even from here and you can smell the smoke.”