FIREFIGHTERS have been tackling a major blaze in Sunderland.
Smoke could be seen from miles around as the fire took hold next to the River Wear at the Alex Smiles waste recycling plant, in Deptford.
It bore a resemblance to the blaze that tore through a Tyneside scrapyard on Thursday.
Onlookers parked their cars along Keir Hardy Way, near the Stadium of Light, to get a view of the drama from the opposite side of the river.
The fire was in a yard alongside the Liebherr crane-building factory.
A statement on the Alex Smiles website said the blaze was under control.
It said: “The material involved is processed, non-hazardous timber.
“There are no casualties involved and the fire is currently under control, with emergency services in attendance.
“The Environment Agency and other relevant organisations have been informed.
“Alex Smiles Ltd would like to thank members of the public for their vigilance.
“Opening hours as normal tomorrow (May 21).”
Echo digital editor Ian Laws took this photo from the north side of the river using his mobile phone.
He said: “I’d just picked up my daughter from Guides in Roker when I saw the smoke.
“I drove towards it out of curiosity and it was quite a spectacular scene.
“A couple of dozen cars had parked on Keir Hardy Way and people were out getting a look.
“I drove further along and walked down footpaths to the riverside. You could feel the heat from the fire that far away.
“The smoke was blowing down towards the seafront.
“I’ve no idea what caused it, of course, but after the scrapyard fire in Newcastle this week, it does make you wonder.”
Firefighters were at the scene well beyond midnight damping down.
Smoke, carried on the wind, left a strong smell drifting across Monkwearmouth, Fulwell, Roker and Seaburn.
Alex Smiles Ltd, established in 1973, moved to the nine-acre riverside site in 2002 and has invested £4million in transforming the business to recycle between 90 and 95 per cent of the waste it collects there.
The company collects paper, plastics, newspapers, magazines and cardboard to be baled and sold to re-processors.
It also recycles glass, cans, wood and scrap from its site.
For more photos and video get tomorrow’s Sunderland Echo.