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Streets Closed over Byker Scrapyard Fire

Black SmokeA clean-up operation started Thursday night after a major scrapyard fire caused streets in Byker to be closed, the area to be evacuated and the paramedics to be called to treat 2 people. The flames occurred at the former Shepherd’s Scrapyard, which has been take over by Ince Ltd for the last 11 years. Over 14 fire engines and 70 firefighters were deployed to the scene.

Around 12:25pm, emergency services were called to Byker Bank as black smoke could be seen as distant as Shouth Shields, Hexham, Sunderland and Whitley Bay. The bank was then closed to traffic and pedestrians, while people working nearby were evacuated. The East End area was cleared and residents nearby were told to stay inside with their windows and doors closed. However, the area surrounding the Albion Row scrapyard was evacuated, and 2 people received treatment from paramedics.

ChronicleLive reported Quay Timber staffer Mark Fawcett saying that the whole scrapyard was ablaze, and the flames were about 100 feet high. The flames were in danger of spreading to the timber yard next door, and all of Byker Bridge was closed. The flames could be seen over the top of it. Someone called him and told him they could see the smoke in Sunderland. He and colleagues sat tight while everyone else evacuated the area, he added, noting that he’s never seen anything like that.

PR agency O Communications senior account manager Chrissie Gardiner told the newspaper that she took a walk along and could hear explosions from the yard. Then fire engine sirens were all she could hear.

Ince Ltd managing director Malcolm Ince says there were over 2,000 litres of explosive fuel near the fire. He believes a small fire smoldered in the scrap, which they had been collecting for 6-7 months, then started to smoke and they could see huge flames. He had to make the decision to evacuate the staff – of which there were 6.

A Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said that there were over 70 firefighters battling the flames in Newcastle. There were 14 fire appliances, including 2 specialist aerial ladder platforms, at the scene as well. They are advising residents to keep their windows and doors closed as a general precaution, which should be more than sufficient for this type of fire. Their control room was overwhelmed with calls about the incident, she added, and they thank the public for their vigilance.

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown praised the emergency services’ response. They had great swift reaction, he added, and he urges everyone to cooperate with the fire, ambulance and police services and not hinder their important work. There were hundreds of people watching from streets nearby, and police had to ask the gatherers to move on since they were adding to the congestion.

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