FLAMES erupt from a car showroom as firefighters battled a giant blaze today.
Fire crews were called to Evans Halshaw on the corner of Alma Place and Sunderland Road in Gilesgate Moor, Durham City, at about 4.35am.
They remained there throughout this morning as they battled to get control of the fire, which has gutted the building.
The heavy black smoke also caused surrounding roads to close with rush-hour traffic backed up in the area.
Eight crews from Durham City and High Handenfold attended the blaze and an aerial ladder platform was also brought in to help the effort.
A neighbour reported a power cut at the Renault showroom and service garage to police at about 1.30am.
It is believed police were called to the premises at about 2.30am after the smell of burning was reported.
Fire crews then attended the scene.
An eye witness, who did not want to be named, said: “The fire has gone through the roof and fallen on cars below and the building is totally gutted.
“Large plumes of smoke can be seen for miles around and the roads around have been closed.”
Thermal image cameras were also brought in to help fire fighters locate the cause of the blaze.
Several gas cylinders were removed from behind the building to prevent any explosion but they were not believed to be involved with the cause of the fire.
A Durham Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said fire crews were expected to remain on site this morning.
Investigations into the cause of the blaze are ongoing.
For a video of the blaze, visit www.sunderlandecho.com.