UPDATE: Owner's devastation at South Shields garage blaze - as pictures show scale of destruction
A South Shields garage owner has spoken of his shock as a blaze caused ‘significant’ damage.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service received a report that a car had caught fire in Garden Lane Garage, at Evans Yard in the Templetown area, just after 10.40am on Thursday, October 6.
25 firefighters have been at the scene. Nobody was injured during the blaze, which started accidentally.
Garden Lane Garage owner John Boak, 67, confirmed the fire started in his premises.
He told the Gazette: "It was a welding mishap. Fortunately we got everyone out and no one was hurt.
"It looks like we are going to be out of business for a while. I'm waiting to speak with the insurance company and so I'm not sure about the extent of the damage. I can't really put into words how I feel."
Fire crews brought the blaze under control and spent the following hours fully extinguishing the blaze.
However, people were asked to avoid the area and to keep their windows shut due to smoke.
The fire had spread to the adjacent roof of Tip Top Tyres and manager Jimmy Burns, 57, was "relieved" the extent of the damage to their premises was limited to one corner of the workshop.
He said: "It was a welding accident next door where a van caught fire. We joined the lads next door with our fire extinguishers but we just couldn't stop it.
"As the fire took hold we had to get out. We went to the end of the yard and waited for the fire service to arrive. You could see the fire spreading to our roof and I was really concerned for the workshop.
"In the end I'm relieved the damage was quite limited. It took the fire service a few hours to get control."
Eye-witnesses told the Gazette the fire spread quickly and flames “were coming through the roof”.
One onlooker, who works at the adjacent Premier Car Wash, said: "I was busy washing the cars when I looked and saw flames coming from the garage.
"They were coming through the roof and there was smoke everywhere. There was loads of smoke and fire was getting bigger and bigger.
"It didn't take long to go up. At one point there were at least eight fire engines on this side alone. I wasn't too concerned about the car wash as we are quite a bit away from the garage."
Another local businessman said: "My business is a few hundred metres away but I could see the smoke and so I came down to see what was happening. There were plumes of black smoke and you could hear popping and banging noises.
"The flames were coming through the roof and you could smell the smoke in the air. There was a lot of concern about it spreading to other areas."
Commanding officer at the scene, Station Manager Andy Blower, praised the firefighters for their response.
He said: “This has been a fantastic response by both our Fire Control staff and the firefighters who have quickly jumped into action at the scene.
“This has been a serious fire that engulfed a large, commercial premises and the actions of our staff have prevented it from spreading to a number of nearby properties.“The damage has been significant but workers at the garage acted bravely in the moments after the fire started to attempt to extinguish it.
“Unfortunately the fire spread far too quickly and there was nothing they could do. We will continue to support them as best we can.
“Following initial investigations, it is not believed this fire was started deliberately and nobody has reported to have been injured.
"We ask that members of the public continue to avoid the area if possible and if you live or work nearby you should keep your windows and doors closed due to the large amounts of smoke.
“We want to thank Northumbria Police for their support with surrounding road closures and we will remain on scene for much of the afternoon.”
Two appliances have since left the scene but a number of crews and vehicles remain in the area to extinguish the blaze and ensure it does not reignite.