OFFICIALS are warning that an industrial solid fuel being sold to householders could damage fires and boilers.

Environmental health officers at Durham County Council are concerned after reports that people with solid fuel fires are being offered Burnwell Blend, a petrol-based briquette used in factories and power generation.

The Government has not approved it for domestic use because of the level of sulphur dioxide it produces.

It was an offence for anyone to use unauthorised fuel, he said. The spokesman added: "It doesn't give off smoke, but the sulphur dioxide levels are higher than allowed, although not dangerously high.

"It burns hotter than coke and prolonged use could damage the bars in a fireplace and cause problems if there is a back boiler.''

Anyone offered the fuel is asked to contact the council on 0191-301 8764 or 0191-301 8765.