EMERGENCY services and construction workers have been assessing the impact of a dramatic city centre fire at one of the region’s flagship developments.

Roads in Durham remained closed until late on Thursday morning while investigators continued to examine the circumstances surrounding the blaze at the Milburngate site.

The historic city centre was gridlocked on Wednesday afternoon as thick smoke clouds rose from the riverside site.

Insulation in the 200-metre boundary wall caught fire at around 2pm and the area had to be evacuated.

Residents were advised to close their windows in case the fumes were noxious and traffic on Durham’s arterial routes ground to a halt.

Fire crews worked through the night to ensure the fire in the cavity was brought under control.

No-one was seriously hurt, but a firefighter and construction worker were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the chaos, the emergency services were praised for the way they handled the situation.

Mary Kelly Foy, MP for the City of Durham, said: “I’d like to thank the emergency services for the swiftly organised response to the fire at the Milburngate development.

“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the general public for adhering to the advice given by the emergency services and to local transport providers for diverting services as quickly as possible to try and allow commuters to safely travel out of the city.

“Huge disruption was caused but it was dealt with professionally and quickly.”

Milburngate is one of three major developments in Durham, alongside the Riverwalk leisure area and the creation of a new council building at The Sands.

Work on the £150 million project got underway two years ago and includes 153 apartments, a 92-bed Premier Inn hotel, and 5,000 square metres of offices.

The extent of the damage at the development due for completion early next year remains unclear at this stage.

A fire investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire is now underway but it is not thought to be suspicious.

Ms Foy added: “My team are keeping in touch with Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council and will provide updates on my social media channels and website when appropriate.

“I welcome the news that there will be an investigation into the cause of the fire and will work closely with all agencies involved.

“The fact that there was no loss of life is a great relief.

“It is testament to the brave men and women who work in our emergency services and we owe them our full gratitude.”

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: “I would like to thank the emergency services involved with the fire at the Milburngate site in Durham City.

“The council’s civil contingency officers continue to liaise with the emergency leads following the incident.

“Can I also thank residents for their patience and adherence to advice during this time.”