FIREFIGHTERS from the region have been getting first-hand experience of how to deal with a possible fire in the Tyne Tunnel.

Teams from Cleveland and Durham brigades were at the Darchem Flare Facility, at Darchem Engineering, in Stillington, Teesside, yesterday, to undertake training using a Channel Tunnel simulation rig to fight a large-scale tunnel fire.

The event was originally organised for French firefighters, but because of bad weather, they were stuck on the M25, and so Cleveland and Durham stepped in.

Darchem Flare has worked with Eurotunnel since the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

The companies were both involved in fire simulation trials on the trains which use the tunnel, and which protected people from the Channel Tunnel fire in 1996.

They were also involved in safety studies before its re-opening after the fire.

A spokeswoman said: "Whilst the possibility of them ever having to fight a fire in the Channel Tunnel is remote, they may, God forbid, have to fight one in the Tyne Tunnel.

"This event gave them ample opportunity to get first-hand experience in a safe environment."