FIREFIGHTERS spent more than 12 hours battling a huge blaze after wooden fuel pellets burst into flames.
The 200-tonne stockpile of biomass pellets, at Port of Tyne’s Tyne Dock, South Shields, caught fire early yesterday.
The fuel is understood to have spontaneously combusted following a chemical reaction within a concrete storage unit.
More than 30 firefighters from stations in South Tyneside and Gateshead were called to the scene and battled to put out the fire, deep within the huge stockpile of fuel.
Crews were still at the scene last night and officers said it could take 24 hours to completely put out the flames – although the fire was swiftly brought under control.
Firefighters were called to the Port of Tyne at 5.20am on Sunday after safety monitoring equipment in the storage unit detected the fire.
Group manager Ian Robertson said the fire had started deep within the stockpile, which covers an area of some 100,000 cubic metres.
“The fire was in a huge biomass fuel storage facility of compressed timber pellets,” he said.
“Large piles of combustible material are prone to self-ignite, because heat builds up within the pile and has nowhere to escape. That is what has happened here, the wood spontaneously combusted.
“The Port of Tyne have monitoring systems in place, but unfortunately by the time the system detected the fire it had already taken hold and we had a deep-seated fire within the fuel storage pile.”