Police have warned residents in the centre of Leeds to keep windows and doors closed after fears that a huge fire on an industrial estate may be sending clouds of dangerous chemicals across the city.
Witnesses described scenes that were “like Armageddon” as loud booms and fireballs were sent up into the sky. A number of buildings in the area have been evacuated.
Police said they were called to the scene on Albion Way at around 2.30 this morning. They said that while fire crews have the blaze “surrounded” they expect to continue dealing with the situation for some time.
People said on Twitter that they had been evacuated from the Canal Mills nightclub, which is on the industrial estate, with one posting a picture and adding: “Leeds is on fire.”
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze began at a building used to store chemicals, and had spread to an adjacent structure.
West Yorkshire Police said that the building was used by packaging firm Tradepak, and warned that “due to the potentially hazardous nature of chemicals on the site, residents in the city centre area are being asked to keep windows and doors closed while the cause of the fire is assessed”.
Speaking to BBC News, Leeds Metropolitan University student Anja Swan said: “We could see massive, massive clouds of thick black smoke, just billowing out into the air. We could see this even from our house about half a mile or so away.
“There were fireballs shooting. It was really ferocious, like Armageddon.”
A number of people on social media described being woken up by “ loud explosions”, with one commenting that it “sounds like we’re being invaded”.
Fire service area manager Ian Dunkley told BBC Breakfast: “We were called out at approximately 2am this morning to a large fire in a chemical recycling plant.
“Unfortunately, that's spread to an adjacent building that does commercial packaging.
“We've had approximately 80 firefighters on scene.
“The initial crews were trying to protect surrounding properties and, in fact, we've saved three surrounding business which will be available to open tomorrow.”
Earlier, smoke had caused the nearby Armley Gyratory Road to be closed, but that has now reopened. No one has yet been reported injured as a result of the fire.