AN Army surplus store has almost run out of gas masks as fears grow over a possible conflict with Iraq.

The Genuine Army Surplus Store, in North Road, Darlington, has been inundated with customers saying they want to protect themselves and their families against any form of attack.

Cut-price nuclear warfare suits, gas masks, ration packs and emergency supplies of drinking water have been selling fast as war against Saddam Hussein looms.

The store is one of only a handful in the country to stock the protective military gear, and boss Steve Thompson says demand has been incredible in the past few days.

"I've nearly ran out of gas masks now," he said yesterday.

"And there are more and more people buying ration packs - it has just never stopped."

Interest in the gear was heightened in the wake of the Gulf War and increased further after the September 11 terrorist atrocities.

Mr Thompson said he started selling the equipment at affordable prices after seeing gas masks available for up to £185 on the Internet.

"People feel that there is not enough information being made available - they are not sure what to do for the best, so they are preparing for the worst," he said