People may be trapped in Newcastle city centre inferno

The fire has been burning since before 9am
The fire has been burning since before 9am
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Firefighters say people may still be trapped in a fire which has brought the centre of Newcastle to a standstill.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said there were three floors above the shop in Cross Street where the blaze broke out..

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Newcastle city centre.

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Newcastle city centre.

The alarm was raised at 8.48am and more than 55 firefighters on 11 appliances, as well as two aerial ladder platforms have been on the scene.

A spokesman said: "It is understood that there may be people on the upper floors of the building."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines said the fire was "severe" and added: "I'd ask members of the public to avoid the area for the time being.

"We understand this will cause some congestion in the city centre and would like to thank the public for their patience as we deal with the incident."

The fire has now been brought under control and the building will be assessed, a service spokesman said.

Structural experts will check it is safe befoe firefighters are allowed to go into the building to check for casualties.