Chronicle Live has reported that the blaze happened at a new building site at Durham’s old passport office, while paramedics are currently on the scene. Separate footage showed a motorist driving towards huge clouds of smoke spreading out across a road, while another dramatic clip showed work at a standstill on the premises.
Initial reports suggested the cause was a gas explosion, but this was later proven not to be the case.
Five fire crews were sent to the scene of the fire at the Milburngate development in Durham City, before this was increased to eight.
Firefighters from Durham, Spennymoor, High Handenhold and Newton Aycliffe were dispatched just after 2pm, a fire service statement confirmed.
In an update at 3.20pm, County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service tweeted: “8 crews are at the scene of a fire at the Milburngate development.
“We would like to confirm there are no reports of an explosion & we are dealing with large fire in the construction site.
“Please avoid the area & find an alternative route home.”
Separately Durham Constabulary tweeted: “Fire crews are currently at the scene of a fire in the #Milburngate development in Durham City.
“Milburngate Bridge, Framwellgate & Crossgate Peth is currently closed.
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Peter Wood posted: “Milburngate construction site is on fire.”
There are also suggestions that the fire is centred on a new hotel which is being constructed on the site, possibly a Premier Inn.
Arriva North East tweeted: “Service update. Durham City Centre.
“Due to Milburngate being closed because of a fire.
“Services will pick up as follows:
“Wharton Park(North Road) Services 61, 62, 64 and X12.
“Sutton Street – all other Arriva services.”
There are currently no reports of any casualties.
However, a statement issued by North East Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 2.09 to reports of a fire at the Milburngate development in Durham city centre.
“We have dispatched three vehicles from our Hazard Area Response Team and a double crewed ambulance.
“We are currently still on the scene.”
Express.co.uk has also contacted County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service for more details.