Firefighters battled the major blaze which erupted at a group of fishing sheds on Wapping Street just after 11am on Thursday, July 4.
Flames engulfed several sheds full of tools and machinery, and destroyed at least four fishing boats which belonged to elderly fishermen.
Barry Robinson, 50, who works at Sealane Inshore next door to where the fire took place, was evacuated for an hour while fire crews from South Shields, Hebburn and Byker fought the flames.
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“The flames - they were huge, it didn’t half go up. By the time the fire brigade got there was about three or four of them up in flames,” he said.
He continued: “If the wind had been blowing this way it would have caught fire to these sheds and then our place would have went up.”
He added: “The main thing is that nobody was seriously injured, the speed it went up, it could have been a lot worse.”
Mr Robinson went on to describe the impact that the fire has had.
“Anything from hand tools, power tools, everything, they’ve lost the lot,” he said.
“It’s devastating for the old fellas, we’re gutted for them. In that yard there’s about four boats totally destroyed and I know one of them’s not insured. They had a lot of stuff in there like mahogany and expensive wood.
He added: “They’re only down a couple of days a week and that’s their thing to get out the house and keep them ticking over. I’m gutted for them.”
An investigation is underway and the cause of the fire is not yet known. However, police say it is not being treated as suspicious.
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said: “Shortly before 11.30am yesterday (Thursday), police received a report of a fire at the fishermen huts on Wapping Street, South Shields.
“Officers attended to assist the Fire Service.
“Wapping Street was closed whilst emergency services worked to extinguish the fire.
“It is not being treated as suspicious.”