A fallen power cable created traffic chaos this evening when it led to the closure of the A1M) in County Durham and plunged nearly 2,000 homes into darkness. 

Eyewitnesses describe seeing a "sheet of flame" as the cable fell onto the motorway near Newton Aycliffe this evening. 

The A1(M) was been "closed for safety" in both directions following the incident shortly after 4.30pm.The Northern Echo:

The carriageway was closed between junctions 59 (Coatham) and 60 (Bradbury), as electrical engineers from Northern Powergrid rushed to the scene.

The incident created a large white flash which was seen miles away, while one motorist witnessed the incident unfolding  

Doug Embleton told the Northern Echo: "My wife and I were en route from Darlington to The Glasshouse ( Gateshead Sage) to see Robert Plant and at approximately 4.40 pm.

"Between the Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland Auckland exits we very very suddenly drove across/over what at the time ( to my wife as passenger) seemed like a hose across the carriageway when instantly there was an immense flash of flame.

"Traffic carried on albeit it felt like we were at the “ epicentre” of the flame.

"It was immensely sudden - as it were, “ over in a flash”.

The Northern Echo:

Eric Norton said: "There was a large green flash seen over Newton Aycliffe following closely by what I can only describe as the biggest flash of light I have seen - starting as a large flash of white light that changed to a brilliant yellow that lasted for over 5 seconds.

"The the orange light was huge and sat in the sky over Newton Aycliffe's industrial estate.

"I just hope no one has been hurt or injured."

Durham Police said earlier this evening: "Drivers are being urged to avoid the A1(M) between Aycliffe Services and Bradbury where both carriageways are at a standstill due to a fallen power cable.

"Traffic lights at Aycliffe Services are also affected.

"Emergency services are on the scene between Junctions 59 and 60 but it is expected that the carriageway will be closed for several hours and drivers are urged to avoid the area if possible.

"Diversions are now in place and we will provide further updates when we get them."

Follow our live blog of the incidents, for updates here 

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A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said: "There is a grounded power conductor that goes across the A1(M) that has fallen.

"The police have been in attendance. It was reported to us at 4.30pm, wiht 1,985 customers affected. We switched the majority of customers back in and still have 26 customers without power at the moment.

We expect to get everyone back on power by 10pm. Engineers are on site working to restore power to the remaining customers."